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Numerical Modeling Versus Observations: Chicxulub and Tunguska

Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Natalia
Artemieva (Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres, Moscow, and Planetary Science Institute)

I'd like to discuss the results of numerical modeling of two well-known terrestrial impact events--the KT impact and the Tunguska explosion. The first one with energy of about 10^24 J occurred 65 Myr ago, formed the 200-km-diameter Chicxulub crater, and caused mass extinction on the Earth. The second with much smaller energy of about 10^16 J happened in 1908 in Russian Siberia. While the KT-event is well-studied by geological, geophysical, geochemical and numerical methods, the Tunguska event is still a subject of non-scientific speculations, including a UFO crash and an anti-matter explosion. The results of numerical model allow to explain practically all "enigmatic" features of the Tunguska explosion (such as a butterfly-like shape of the forest fallout and an absence of extra-terrestrial material near the impact site). The results of the Chicxulub modeling (distribution of distal ejecta, in particular) are in substantial contradictions with observations. Can we resolve this situation scientifically or should we return to the old idea of "not Chicxulub" or "not Chicxulub alone" for the mass extinction

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