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May 6 / Dave Schumaker

How Fossil Fuels Killed the Dinosaurs

A team of researchers from New Zealand have published a new paper on the asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The paper talks about the layer of iridium and carbon particles found at the K/T boundary and proposes a new idea on how the carbon particles were originally formed. It was thought that these carbon particles were the result of global forest fires. The new research shows that the particles are actually small spheres, called carbon cenospheres, and can only be created under conditions of immense heat and pressure. They are commonly associated with heavy industrial production facilities.

The beads, known to geologists as carbon cenospheres, cannot be formed through the combustion of plant matter, contradicting a hypothesis that the cenospheres are the charred remains of an Earth on fire. If confirmed, the discovery suggests environmental circumstances accompanying the 65-million-year-old extinction event were slightly less dramatic than previously thought.

“Carbon embedded in the rocks was vaporized by the impact, eventually forming new carbon structures in the atmosphere,” said Indiana University Bloomington geologist Simon Brassell, study coauthor and former adviser to the paper’s lead author, Mark Harvey.

For more information, see also this article from

[Via ScienceDaily]

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