We live very near to an important geologic area called the Hell Creek Formation. It covers parts of western North Dakota, Western South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. It contains some of the richest fossil beds from the Cretaceous period, the era that ended with the death of the dinosaurs.
Recently, two paleontologists published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “A seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota”, outlining just what happened in what is now North Dakota in the minutes following the crash of an asteroid in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This was the asteroid that is thought to have killed all the dinosaurs.
Based on what they found in a grey/ black layer near the top of a butte on a ranch near Bowman, ND, about 80 miles from my town, they estimate that in minutes after the asteroid crashed in Yucatan, seismic waves of water and molten rocks smashed into what is now the Hell Creek Formation. Molten glass particles filled the air, choking any living thing. Fish (salt water and fresh water), trees, rocks, dinosaurs, and beads of molten glass were swept up into a jumbled mass, preserved in the mud and debris for the modern paleontologists to find. The fish fossils in the KPg boundary dig were so well preserved that they could see that their mouths were open, gasping for air. It triggered fires within 1500 miles of the impact and formed a plume of fire that rose halfway to the Moon. They estimate 70% of the world’s forests burned. Almost all life on the planet died.
Well, I find that pretty awe inspiring and amazing. I like it when scientists can make things real and exciting. Yucatan is a long way from where I live. That must have made a really big splash when it hit.
What has amazed you recently? Would you want to be a paleontologist? Did you ever do cannon balls?