A Jupiter Fragmented Comet: Cause of the K/T Boundary Record

  • N. C. Wickramasinghe
  • Max K. Wallis
Conference paper

Abstract

The extended period of mass extinctions around the K/T boundary correlating with extraterrestrial amino acids in the sediment record constitutes strong evidence of a cometary cause. The input of extraterrestrial matter over 105 yr supports the hypothesis of a giant comet, fragmented into subcomets on close encounter with Jupiter, and subsequently perturbed into Earth-crossing orbits. Copious amounts of dust were emitted via this and possibly successive fragmenting encounters, and via normal cometary evaporation. The dynamics of dust from the disintegrating comet fragments favours retention in Earth-crossing orbits of the sub-micron fraction of organic composition. The shroud of dust accreted in the Earth’s upper atmosphere varied with time and imposed climatic stresses that caused species extinctions over 105 yr. While the iridium peak in the sediments coincides with the Chicxulub crater impactor, other iridium detail suggests that some of the impactor material was reinjected into space and in part re-accreted by Earth from the interplanetary orbits.

Keywords

Mass Extinction Tsunami Deposit Close Encounter Cometary Dust Radiation Pressure Force 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. C. Wickramasinghe
    • 1
  • Max K. Wallis
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MathematicsUniversity of Wales College of CardiffUK

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