Big Splash

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?


30 thoughts on “Big Splash”

  1. Pretty tough to come up with something more amazing than Di Palma’s discovery. As for paleontology, I think my interest would be more in the direction of archaeology.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. OT. I’m laughing right now. Reading and advice columnist who use the phrase “Kondo the clutter”. If I’d had coffee in my mouth, I would have spit it out.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great summary of this, Renee. I’ve recently attended a presentation of archeological discoveries in Trempealeau, across the river, which I hope to summarize soon as a blog post. So that’s all I have to say about that for the moment. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. When I was a kid, Dad had some work done involving a fair amount of excavation of a hill side. I spent several years climbing up the remaining rock face and finding all sorts of fossils in there. Just the plain, sort of ‘stick’ things or tiny little shells in the limestone rock. It fascinated me. And I think gave me a pretty good basis at 10 yrs old, of understanding our area was all underwater at some point and glaciers moving and all that.

    I have done cannonballs!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The comments yesterday about eggs. I don’t consider myself an egg connoisseur but the people that want my eggs sure claim they’re better than store bought eggs. Well it doesn’t take much to be better than $.99 store eggs.
    I can tell the yokes are more orange and stand up better. Back in January one customer told me the eggs had a different taste.
    Yeah. It’s January and they’ve been eating snow for a month, what do you expect?
    One lady told me I have the best eggs in the United States. I am impressed she has tried every other egg in the US.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thought I wrote a reply but it must be on my work computer yet. I got to thinking about baby chicks and went to looking at the varieties a making my wish list and forgot to post it.

        You let me know next time you’re down here and I’ll get you eggs Ljb.
        Yesterday I got 30 eggs; a new daily record. Today I got 16. That’s the way it works. Average is about 24 / day.

        Late summer they’ll dwindle off until new chicks start to lay again. But they won’t if I don’t order some.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Don’t ask me why but when I was in high school I used to get catalogs from the Murray McMurray chick hatchery in Iowa. I never intended to order any chicks, I think I just liked the catalog, which featured Murray Mc Murray himself, with a chicken on his shoulder, imparting nuggets of chicken wisdom. Murray McMurray was dead at the time, kind of like Colonel Sanders but earlier in the pipeline.

          Liked by 4 people

        2. I was thinking for when I’m stuck, er I mean Staying, in Rochester, Ben. Might be nice to have some decent eggs then.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I am amazed I am making progress figuring out the intricacies of the new electronic health data system at my work. It isn’t any more time saving as the old one, but I don’t feel completely overwhelmed any more. March was a very long month of uncertainty and frustration.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is amazing that people are stealing sand for making concrete. Not all sand is alike. It needs rough edges so beach sand doesn’t work well because the edges are rounded off.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Heard the story on MPR a couple weeks ago.
        They’re also stealing nice beach sand to replace their lousy beach sand.


  8. A Geological Madrigal

    I have found out a gift for my fair;
    I know where the fossils abound,
    Where the footprints of Aves declare
    The birds that once walked on the ground.
    Oh, come, and–in technical speech–
    We’ll walk this Devonian shore,
    Or on some Silurian beach
    We’ll wander, my love, evermore.

    I will show thee the sinuous track
    By the slow-moving Annelid made,
    Or the Trilobite that, farther back,
    In the old Potsdam sandstone was laid;
    Thou shalt see, in his Jurassic tomb,
    The Plesiosaurus embalmed;
    In his Oolitic prime and his bloom,
    Iguanodon safe and unharmed.

    You wished–I remember it well,
    And I loved you the more for that wish–
    For a perfect cystedian shell
    And a WHOLE holocephalic fish.
    And oh, if Earth’s strata contains
    In its lowest Silurian drift,
    Or palaeozoic remains
    The same, ’tis your lover’s free gift!

    Then come, love, and never say nay,
    But calm all your maidenly fears;
    We’ll note, love, in one summer’s day
    The record of millions of years;
    And though the Darwinian plan
    Your sensitive feelings may shock,
    We’ll find the beginning of man,
    Our fossil ancestors, in rock!

    – Francis Bret Harte

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Why would I want to be a paleontologist when I’m pretty much a fossil myself?

    Over the years I have collected lots of fossils along the shores of the Mississippi near downtown St. Paul. There are lots of them. My interest in them, however, is not scientific; I simply find them intriguing. I suspect that if I knew more about paleontology or archeology, I’d be even more intrigued. As it is, both are a source of amazement to me.

    Like Ben, yes, I have done plenty of cannon balls.

    Liked by 2 people

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