The asteroid that hit in the Yucatan Peninsula in modern day Mexico nearly 66 million years ago, also known as Chicxulub, did more than just create a mile high tsunami and spark wildfires around the globe. It also created a massive hole in the ocean floor which created the conditions for an acid rain event that acidified the world’s oceans almost immediately. It not only killed the dinosaurs but nearly all sea life as well.
According to Business Insider:
About 66 million years ago, an asteroid more than 6 miles wide struck modern-day Mexico. The impact sparked wildfires that stretched for hundreds of miles, triggered a mile-high tsunami, and released billions of tons of sulfur into the atmosphere.
Business Insider via Yahoo!
Within a minute of hitting the Earth, the Chicxulub asteroid had bored a hole nearly 100 miles wide into the sea floor, creating a bubbling pit of molten rock and super-hot gas. The contents of that fiery cauldron skyrocketed, creating a mountain-high plume that poured acid rain into the oceans.
Scientists made the discovery after looking at the shells of microscopic plankton known as foraminifera. The shells of these small plankton species are thinner in more acidic waters than they are in less acidic waters. The shells were much thinner within 100 years of the asteroid impact.
Warnings for the Future
Shockingly, what happened with the asteroid is similar to what humans are doing to the oceans now. In the last 250 years, humans have acidified the ocean by about one third the amount the asteroid did through carbon-dioxide emissions. Our oceans absorb 30% of the carbon-dioxide we produce and that causes the pH level of the oceans to drop. This change in acidity could produce a very similar result without the asteroid. Scientists are now studying the asteroid event to understand how we could avoid a similar mass extinction in our oceans.