This book tells the story of the catastrophic impact of the giant 10 km asteroid Chicxulub into the ancient Gulf of Mexico 65.5 million years ago. Chicxulub: The Impact and Tsunami begins with a discussion of the nature of asteroids and the likelihood of future Earth-impacts. The story then turns to the discovery of a global sediment layer attributed to the fallout from the impact and a piecing together of the evidence that revealed a monster crater, buried under the Gulf. Reviewed is the myriad of geological and fossil evidence that suggested the disastrous sequence of events occurring when a "nuclear-like" explosion ripped through the sea, Earth, and atmosphere, thus forming the mega-crater and tsunami. The aftermath of the Chicxulub's event initiated decades and more of major global climate changes including a "Nuclear Winter" of freezing darkness and blistering greenhouse warming. A chapter is dedicated to the science of tsunamis and their model generation, including a portrayal of the globally rampaging Chicxulub waves.
The asteroid's global devastation killed off some 70% of animal and plant life including the dinosaurs. The study of an ancient Cambrian fossil bed suggests how "roll of the dice" events can affect the future evolution of life on Earth. We see how Chicxulub's apparent destruction of the dinosaurs, followed by the their replacement with small mammals, altered forever the progress of human evolution. Chicxulub: The Impact and Tsunami presents a fascinating glimpse through the lens of the natural sciences – the geology, climatology, and oceanography, of the effects of an enormous astronomical event.
- Prologue: The Arrival
CHAPTER 1: The Orbiting Oobjects
- The Asteroids
- Asteroid Impacts -- It's All about Kinetic Energy
- On Kinetic Impacts
- The Barringer Impact Crater
- The Tunguska Explosion
- On the Probabilities of Asteroid-Earth Collisions
- Other Objects of Concern
CHAPTER 2: THE TALE OF CHICXULUB
- The Alvarez Discovery -- The Origin of the K-Pg Boundary
- On the Size of the Asteroid
- Conclusions of the Alvarez Study
- Found -- A Crater
- Found -- Tektites in Haiti
- A Fortuitous Geology Conference
- Geophysical Gravity and Seismic Data
- Bore Hole and Crater Stratigraphy
- Evidence of Ejecta in the K-Pg Boundary
- Arroyal Membral, Northeast Mexico
- Brazos River, Texas
- Dogie Creek, Wyoming
- A Typical Deep Ocean Core through the K-Pg Boundary
- Other Attributes of the Crater Target Zone
- The Impact Effects of a Deeper Gulf
- Effects of High Sulfates in the Deep Target Rocks
- Reaffirming the Effects of the "Alvarez Asteroid"
- Chicxulub's Single Event-Caused Extinction -- The Deniers
CHAPTER 3: A SCENARIO FOR THE CHICXULUB IMPACT AND ENERGIES
- The Ancient Gulf of Mexico -- A Little History
- Chicxulub's Atmospheric Entry -The Sonic Boom
- Impact and Explosion
- The Seismic Waves
- Explosion, Ejecta and Fallout
- An Undersea Nuclear Explosion as an Analogy of Chicxulub
- The Chicxulub Crater formation -- A Model
- The Great Explosion Cavity
- Today's Crater
- On Impact and Volcanic Craters
CHAPTER 4: THE CHICXULUB TSUNAMI
- Tsunami Generation -- The 3 Modes
- A Primer on Tsunamis - Wave Basics
- Refraction -- Navigator of Tsunamis
- Tsunami Waves Coming Ashore -- Run-up
- The Cortes Bank
- The Indonesian Earthquake Tsunami - 2004
- The Tsunami at Unimac Island, Aleutians
- The Great East Japan Earthquake Tsunami - 2011
- The La Palma Volcano Collapse Tsunami - A Model
- The 1950DA Ocean Impact Tsunami - A Model
- The Chicxulub Impact Tsunami
- Chicxulub Tsunami's "Edgerton Effect"
- Chicxulub's Spreading Waves and their Global Reach
CHAPTER 5: LONG TERM GLOBAL EFFECTS
- Oceanographic Chaos -- The Creation of the Hot Toxic Sea
- Ocean Stability Effects
- The Long Dark "Nuclear Winter"
- The Long "Greenhouse Summer"
- Damage to the Biosphere
Epilogue: Possible Chicxulub Effects on the path of Human Evalution
David Shonting earned a B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from the University of New Hampshire and the ScD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as research assistant at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, as a physical oceanographer at the Naval Underwater Systems Center, Newport, RI and as adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island. He helped to initiate and develop the Oceanography and Ocean Engineering programs at Southeast Massachusetts University. Dr. Shonting also conducted research at the NATO Undersea Research Centre in La Spazia, Italy and has consulted in Admiralty Law and environmental programs.
Cathy Ezrailson is currently an associate professor of science education at the University of South Dakota. She earned her B.S. in Earth Science from Ashland University, her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education at the University of Houston, and her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Physics Education from Texas A&M University. She has taught physics, geology, and physical science. And was awarded the Presidential Award Excellence in Math and Science Teaching from Texas in 2000. She gives local, national and international presentations and workshops for teachers and students. She now consults widely on classroom, lab and field safety.