The Chicxulub Crater, Yucatan, Mexico, is a leading contender as the site for the impact event that caused the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinctions. A considerable thickness of anhydrite (CaSO4) forms part of the target rock. High temperatures resulting from impact would drive SO2 off from the anhydrite. Hundreds of billions of tonnes of sulfuric acid aerosol would thus enter the stratosphere and cause considerable cooling of the Earth's surface, decrease photosynthesis by orders of magnitude, deplete the ozone layer, and permit increased UV radiation to reach the Earth's surface. Finally, the aerosol would fall back to Earth as acid rain and devastate land and some lacustrine biota and near-surface marine creatures. The presence of anhydrite in the Chicxulub target rock may thus help explain the many extinctions observed at the K-T boundary. ?? 1992.
Additional publication details
The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction: A lethal mechanism involving anhydrite target rocks