Saturday, October 17, 2009

India Asteroid Killed Dinosaurs, Made Largest Crater?

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    • "The dinosaurs were really unlucky," said study co-author Sankar Chatterjee, a paleontologist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

      Chatterjee thinks this second asteroid impact created a 300-mile-wide (500-kilometer-wide) depression on the Indian Ocean seafloor, which his team began exploring in 1996.

    • His team has dubbed this depression the Shiva crater, after the Hindu god of destruction and renewal.

      "If we are correct," Chatterjee said, "this is the largest crater known on Earth."

    • The Shiva asteroid impact was powerful enough to vaporize Earth's crust where it struck, allowing the much hotter mantle to well up and create the crater's tall, jagged rim, Chatterjee estimates.

      What's more, his team thinks the impact caused a piece of the Indian subcontinent to break off and drift toward Africa, creating what are now the Seychelles islands