It excavated a hole nearly 20 miles deep, ripping fault lines down to Earth’s mantle. The open hole left behind by the asteroid quickly filled back in as material rebounded from the depths, building a great ring of peaks around the crater’s center. A debris plume erupted above Earth’s atmosphere and rained back down around the globe, creating regional infernos.
These were just the opening salvos of hell on Earth.
And all the while, the space rock just drifted, tumbling end over end like a poorly thrown football.
Burning through the atmosphere at 45,000 mph, the asteroid’s leading edge hit the Gulf of Mexico while its other end was still higher than a cruising 747. A blast of air surged at speeds exceeding 600 mph, bringing hurricane-force winds to what is now North America. Within the hour, waves hundreds of feet high pounded Texas and Florida.
I’m not saying that the following things do or do not exist where I have lived before Brittany Andrews is an American expatriate who moved from America to Zug, Switzerland, and then to a small market town in Shropshire, UK, experiencing two very different places and people abroad.
Brittany is an artist owning a small craft business, and she writes about her expat experiences and learning about new cultures on her blog
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A city-sized chunk of primordial space rock circled the solar system somewhere between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Then, some unknown celestial mechanics shoved this 9-mile-wide projectile out of its orbit. The asteroid belt escapee arrived 66 million years ago. rex might have tilted its head in curiosity as a strange, new star grew dozens of times brighter than the sun.
“It’s the most important natural event on Earth in the last 100 million years,” Morgan says.
Scientists and oil prospectors have drilled the crater in the past, but the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 364 was the first to explore Chicxulub’s central peak ring.
The team hopes to find new clues about how these large craters form and what made the impact so deadly.“There were accusations of voodoo physics from one and the other saying your parents were not married,” Morgan jokes.
By chance, the asteroid struck a shallow sea over a sulfur-rich shelf.
Once vaporized, the chemicals formed a climate-altering blanket that enveloped the planet and fell as acid rain. As forests died, wildfires turned the world’s plants into a layer of soot now found all around the planet. Those two things made the Earth very dark and cold for an extended period of time,” says Joanna Morgan of Imperial College London, who’s spent her career studying the calamity.
Her landing target is the Liftboat Myrtle, a drill rig parked over the planet’s best-preserved large impact scar, now dubbed Chicxulub (pronounced CHICK-soo-loob), after a tiny nearby town.