What if an oil disaster had got the better of the dinosaurs?

This hypothesis was formulated by American researchers and taken up by Japanese scientists. What if the celestial body that hit the Earth tens of millions of years ago hit huge amounts of oil?

Geologists Mark Harvey and Simon Brassell from Bloomington University (USA) had made this hypothesis in 2010, it was later taken up by geoscience researchers from Tohoku University and the Meteorological Research Institute from Japan. This fascinating research has been published in the journal Nature.

The disappearance of the dinosaurs was caused by a small celestial body about ten kilometers in diameter nearly 66 million years ago. The shock, whose power was estimated to be 5 billion times greater than that caused by the Hiroshima bomb in 1945, produced a crater 180 kilometers in diameter. The American researchers had analyzed the KT layer resulting from the impact, the latter containing iridium. They were then able to give more details about certain carbonaceous particles that had always been interpreted as being “soot”.

The impact had produced a heat wave coupled with the fallout of an incalculable number of molten rocks. The quantities of soot released into the atmosphere were then identified as the consequence of the burning of many forests. For American scientists, this version is unacceptable, they believe that this is the result of the combustion of large quantities of coal, but especially oil.

The site of the impact, namely the crater of Chicxulub (Yucatán, Mexico), is close to one of the largest offshore oil fields on the planet: the Cantarell complex. After investigation, the researchers estimated that the celestial body having struck the area must have impacted rocks loaded with oil, which caused immense explosions of these hydrocarbons as well as their combustion. The result is nothing other than an amplified environmental effect and a significant modification of the Earth’s climate.

The Japanese researchers who took over the 2010 study worked more on the famous soot. According to experts, if it had been produced by forest fires, it would have remained in the lower part of the atmosphere (troposphere) and would have fallen fairly quickly, in just one week. However, the climate models used during the research rather suggest a rise in this soot to a greater height in the stratosphere. In this upper layer of the atmosphere, such discharges would never have been able to fall so quickly and would have remained there for months, even years. It would therefore be the second situation that would have caused significant climate change on Earth.

Do you want to know more? Here is an interview with French paleontologist Éric Buffetaut conducted by Futura Sciences:

Sources: Futura Sciences – Daily Mail

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