The discovery of a West African crater raises new questions about what happened on the fateful day an asteroid crashed into what is now the Gulf of Mexico 66 million years ago, killing the dinosaurs and forming the famous crater. Chicxulub.
It was recently revealed by scientists, Nader crater has a diameter of about 8.5 km, is located 400 km off the coast of Guinea and 300 meters below sea level. The estimated age of the Chicxulub crater is similar, which raises the possibility that they are somehow related – for example, they could have both formed after the impact of fragments from the same asteroid.
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Most likely, the Nader Crater was formed as a result of the impact of an asteroid that was directly below it diameter 0.5 kmwhile the diameter of the crater that created the Chickxulub crater was estimated to be 12 km in diameter.
The asteroid that fell in the Gulf of Mexico region caused strong earthquakes, tsunamis and a firestorm. So much dusty material reached the sky that the earth went into a deep cooling. Dinosaurs did not survive the climate shock.
On the other hand, the asteroid that might have spawned a rare crater wasn’t very large and didn’t cause damage in these dimensions, but had its effect as well. Researchers published information about the crater found off the coast of Guinea on Wednesday (17/8) in the scientific journal Science Advances. Although they provided evidence that an asteroid was responsible for the formation, a second possibility is that the crater was the result of volcanic activity in the past.
“Our simulations indicate that this crater was the result of the impact of an asteroid 400 meters wide,” explains one of the authors of the publication, Veronica Bray, from the University of Arizona, USA.
This could have caused a tsunami of more than one kilometer in height, as well as an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 or more.
“The energy released was about 1,000 times greater than that observed in the January 2022 Tonga eruption and tsunami.”
The newly revealed crater was identified by Uisdean Nicholson of Heriot-Watt University in the UK while he analyzed seismic survey data. This type of analysis, often performed by mining, oil and gas companies, documents the different layers of rocks and sediments underground to a depth of kilometers.
Illustration of the Chicxulub Crater, shortly after it was formed – Image: GETTY IMAGES/BBC
The team of scientists is cautious when connecting the Chicxulub and Nadir craters. Judging by the analysis of fossils found near the Nader crater, they will have a very similar age to Chicxulub, but to confirm this, it is necessary to remove and analyze rocks from the crater itself. This type of study will also confirm whether the Nader crater was caused by an asteroid.
The idea that Earth may have been exposed to a range of large space rocks in the past is not new. Some have speculated that the effect that caused the creation of the Bullch crater in Ukraine could be somehow related to the event that produced Chicxulub. Their ages do not differ much. Professor Sean Gulick, one of the leaders of a recent project to drill the Chicxulub crater, comments on these relationships.
“A much smaller cousin, or sister, doesn’t necessarily add to what we know about the extinction of the dinosaurs, but it does contribute to our understanding of the astronomical event that occurred at Chicxulub,” Gulick, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin (USA) tells BBC News.
Was the disintegration of a celestial body different fragments colliding with the Earth over time? Was Chicxulub a double asteroid in which a smaller body orbits a larger one? These are interesting questions to investigate, because knowing that Chicxulub may be accompanied by one second slightly alters the formation of the crater The story of how Appearance (nozzle) of Chicxulub”.
– This text was originally published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/geral-62589453
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