Meteorite impact acidifies surface ocean 66 million years ago contributing to mass extinction

Dr Sarah Greene

Dr Sarah Greene at the University of Birmingham is a co-author on a new study in PNAS, titled ‘Rapid ocean acidification and protracted Earth system recovery followed the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact.’

The paper provides the first empirical evidence that the asteroid which hit the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago acidified the surface ocean, likely contributing to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. In addition, a data-model comparison shows that a partial (~50%) reduction in global marine primary productivity followed the asteroid impact, after which it took >100,000 years for the marine carbon cycle to recover.

tiny fossils from Geulhemmerberg Cave in the NetherlandsThe researchers collected more than 7,000 of these tiny fossils—each half the size of a grain of sand—from Geulhemmerberg Cave in the Netherlands, the only place on Earth that contains fossils from the oceans in the decades and centuries after the K-T impact. (Michael J. Henehan / PNAS) 

The paper was picked up by a number of media outlets including CNN, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, The Independent, El País, the Mirror, the Daily Express, the Metro, Fox News, and the Daily Mail.

See here for some examples.