It is already known that the dinosaurs, which dominated the Earth before humans, were decimated by an asteroid that hit the planet about 66 million years ago and opened the crater now known as Chicxulub. And not only they, but many of the species that lived here also went extinct. However, something even worse could have occurred after the impact: a gigantic tsunami.
Studies published in the scientific journal AGU Advances suggest that, with the shock, waves of up to 4.5 kilometers were formed, with initial energy almost 30,000 times greater than that of the tidal wave that hit Asia in 2004.
The University of Michigan researchers reached these conclusions through analyzes of more than 100 cores spread across the globe and computer simulations of what would happen if a space object of the suggested size of the asteroid hit the planet today.
According to the observations, made with the idea of a vertical impact – even if it is thought that the event was oblique – due to limitations of the code used by scientists, the celestial body of 14 km in diameter hit Chicxulub at 43,500 km / h, about 35 times the speed of sound, creating a 100 km crater and raising a cloud of dust.
Placing the target as a granitic shoreline, overlaid by a layer of sediment 4 kilometers thick and an ocean 1 to 3 kilometers deep, a curtain of material ejected water outward, projecting waves.
These first reached 4.5 km in height and, after five minutes of thrust and the initial peak, a mass measuring 1.5 km pushed the sea in all directions with energy similar to that of large earthquakes. This all took place in just the first ten minutes of the apocalyptic event.
To give you an idea of the strength of the tsunami, outcrops “thrown” by waves were found in New Zealand, more than 12,000 km away from the original impact site, which is on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
The method used by the scientists to arrive at the result was to analyze marine sediments influenced before or shortly after the asteroid strike, comparing with pairs from other studies. “The erosion distribution and gaps that we observed in marine sediments from the Upper Cretaceous (period) are consistent with our model results, which gives us more confidence in the predictions,” said Molly Range, lead author of the research, in a statement.
Some regions escaped the consequences of the impact: the South Atlantic, North Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In coastal regions, waves could exceed 100 meters, which would surpass all tidal waves ever documented, according to the scientist.