From the RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE
Troy, N.Y. — A comet strike may have triggered the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a rapid warming of the Earth caused by an accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide 56 million years ago, which offers analogs to global warming today. Sorting through samples of sediment from the time period, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered evidence of the strike in the form of microtektites – tiny dark glassy spheres typically formed by extraterrestrial impacts. The research will be published tomorrow in the journal Science.
Microtektites as first seen in a sediment sample from the onset of the Paeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
CREDIT Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
“This tells us that there was an extraterrestrial impact at the time this sediment was deposited – a space rock hit the planet,” said Morgan Schaller, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer, and corresponding author of the…