Monday, May 05, 2008

Chicxulub Impact May Have "Burned" Carbon In Earth's Crust

It's well documented that the Chicxulub impact happened about 65 million years ago. From this impact, it has been determined that material from this impact that laid down a thin layer of iridium -- an element more likely to be found in Solar System asteroids than in the Earth's crust. What isn't well know or for that matter all that well understood is a layer just above the iridium that consists of carbon. And carbon of an unusual structure. Each granule of carbon is a sphere called a cenospheres. What makes these carbon globes unusual is that it is well known that they only are formed when carbon is subjected to intense burning tempratures, such as thoses in power plants etc. Carbon cenospheres are a classic indicator of industrial activity. The first appearance of the carbon cenospheres defines the onset of the industrial revolution. Since there is little chance that there were power plants burning coal 65 million years ago, these cenospheres have proved to be a bit of a mystery. Now scientists from the U.S., U.K., Italy, and New Zealand have released a study that suggests that the Chicxulub impact was so powerful that it pulverized and liquified the carbon in the Earth's crust, subjecting it to such pressure and tempratures that it formed structures identical to those formed by modern day buring of coal.

Read complete article here in Science Daily online

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