Incoming: The Chicxulub Impactor, Part 5 ― Other Theories & Other Extinctions By Stephanie Osborn

Incoming: The Chicxulub Impactor, Part 5 ― Other Theories & Other Extinctions

By Stephanie Osborn

Other Theories

Gradual Decline

Some statistical studies indicate that, based on the fossil record, most of the major dinosaur groups were already declining during the Late Cretaceous, though certain herbivore groups appear to proliferate during this period.

The researchers who performed these studies indicate that the dinos’ inability to “replace extinct species with new ones” left them vulnerable to extreme stressor events, such as a major impact.

Not everyone agrees with the studies.

Deccan Traps

The Deccan Traps were a non-explosive form of supervolcano located on the Deccan Plateau of west central India, and even today are generally considered to be one of the largest, if not the largest, volcanic feature on Earth. A volcanic trap consists of one or more long cracks, parallel if multiple, from which low-viscosity basaltic-chemistry lava extrudes. Due to the low viscosity of the melt, eruptions are rarely explosive, but the lava is “runny” and fast-flowing, and traps extrude great quantities of it―anywhere from tens to millions of cubic kilometers of lava. (For more information, see Kiss Your Ash Goodbye: The Yellowstone Supervolcano, which discusses traps.) And the Deccan Traps were huge, at about three-quarters of a million cubic MILES of lava extruded.

extinction would have

Extinction would have occurred due to the hypothesized release of copious ash and carbon-and sulfur-compound aerosols into the air, blocking light and reducing photosynthesis in a volcanic winter before causing a runaway greenhouse effect after the ash settled.

But since traps are generally not highly eruptive, getting the ash (and maybe the gases) high enough into the atmosphere to have a GLOBAL negative effect would be difficult.

More, the clay boundary layer doesn’t occur DURING a trap-eruption layer, but BETWEEN them, indicating the Deccan Traps were not erupting at the time of the extinction.

This hypothesis is no longer widely accepted.

Multiple Impactors

Several other known craters have similar geologic ages, and a couple of additional


hypothesized-but-undiscovered craters may add to the tally, too.

When we reconstruct the tectonic plates as they would have existed at the time, all these form an equatorial swath; some therefore propose that Earth was hit by a recently-broken family

of bodies

of bodies akin to Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Sea-Level Drop

During the last age of the Cretaceous Period, there seems indisputable evidence that the sea levels fell by a substantial margin. Earlier layers depict the signature of sea beds, while later layers are obviously dry land. There is no obvious explanation for why; the current theory is that the mid-ocean ridges (a spreading tectonic plate boundary, basically elongated volcanoes) stopped erupting and sank under their own weight.

sank under

But that wouldn’t have affected deep-water organisms or land creatures at all. Yet all of these were also drastically affected by the K-T extinction.

Multiple Choice

This option is simply, “Choose one from column A, one from column B, one from column C,” until sufficient conditions are reached for the observed data.

But a sufficient condition is a sufficient condition, and the incredible chain of events brought about by the Chicxulub impact would have been a more-than-sufficient condition.

Some recent research indicates that there were, in fact, two back-to-back major extinctions that occurred in this timeframe, one associated with the impact, the other with volcanism (likely the Deccan Traps). The eruption apparently occurred first, and the impact would have finished the matter.

Other Extinction Events

Table steph

EventTimeframePossible Cause(s)Ordovician-Silurian extinction events (2, back to back)450-440MY Before Present (BP)Global cooling/sea level drop; Possible gamma-ray burstLate Devonian extinction375-360MY BPViluy TrapsPermian-Triassic extinction event aka “The Great Dying”252MY BPSiberian Traps; Wilkes Land impactor; Anoxic eventTriassic-Jurassic extinction event201.3MY BPCentral Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) eruption/breakup of Pangaea; possible impactorCretaceous-Paleogene extinction event66MY BPChicxulub impactor; Deccan Traps

These are only the major extinction events found in the geologic record. More than two dozen can be found or inferred from the fossil record. At least five invoke possible impactor triggers; two invoke other cosmic events, such as a gamma-ray burst or a supernova; nine also invoke various supervolcanic events. Some of these overlap as competing proposed causes.


For more details, check out INCOMING! The Chicxulub Impactor by Stephanie Osborn on Kindle and Nook. [Note, by buying with the link below you’re giving the blog owner a small percentage of the purchase price.]


OR buy one of Stephanie’s fiction books:

Dr. Megan McAllister was already a pretty unusual human — NASA astronaut, professional astronomer, polymath — when she encountered the man in the black suit that night in west Texas. What Division One Agent Echo didn’t know, when he recruited her to the Agency, was that she was even more special.

But he’d find out, soon enough.

69 thoughts on “Incoming: The Chicxulub Impactor, Part 5 ― Other Theories & Other Extinctions By Stephanie Osborn

  1. Is there any way to buy E-books from Amazon that does not involve ‘Kindle Cloud Reader’?

    I decided never to buy a Kindle after the infamous pull-back incident, when Amazon deleted books people had paid for from their Kindles. Now it looks like you’re not even permitted to store the data locally, but are forced to stream it from ‘the cloud’?

    Is there a way to buy E-books from Amazon, download them, and read them on my computer?

    (By the way, isn’t Kindle a really ironic name for a book reader? Unless you’re reading Fahrenheit 451, that is.)

    1. You can buy the e-book with your amazon account, then go into Manage Your Content and Devices and download the .AZW3 file. From there, there are a few free e-book readers that you can use to read the book, or convert to another format that you might find more useful. (I just tested the downloading of an e-book .AZW3 file, but I don’t have access to a free reader where I’m currently at to test that part) Note, to download, hit the […] menu button and look there for the download link. It did ask me which device I was downloading for, so I’m not sure how that would work if you don’t have an actual kindle device, but that should be easily circumvented by downloading the free kindle app on your cell phone and registering it. downloading it doesn’t mean you have to actually use it if you don’t want to.

      Not being anti-kindle, I haven’t bothered doing any of this. Although, if Amazon removing books really is a thing, maybe I should start downloading my e-books and storing them somewhere as a backup. I’m pretty sure my kindle paperwhite can connect via USB to my computer and I can drop the AZW3 files in the folder on it if I want to read them (or, failing that, use a free reader that can handle the format).

      1. I plug my Kindle Fire into the USB port on my computer and use Windows Explorer to move the files around. Works great for moving videos and photographs too. Just that Kindle has some really odd directory structure and names to sort through.

    2. Speaking of Kindle, is everyone aware that the Kindle Fire is based on Android? And has a camera? I’m looking for anything Amazon has put out, but haven’t found anything yet.

      “In fact, the Checkmarx researchers thought the flaw affected only Google’s own Pixel phones — the Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 3 were directly tested -— until they told Google about it.

      “Google informed our research team that the impact was much greater and extended into the broader Android ecosystem, with additional vendors such as Samsung acknowledging that these flaws also impact their Camera apps, and began taking mitigating steps,” said a Checkmarx blog posting today (Nov. 19).

      Google told Checkmarx that it has notified several other phone makers, but Checkmarx did not name them.

      “According to Google, additional OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] also confirmed the flaws,” stated the official Checkmarx report.”

      I’ve gotten my Samsung phone patched.

      1. Right after I put this up, I went out to the Amazon Kindle forums, looked for a mention of it (without success) and put up the question. No response yet.

          1. The problem with this hack is that unless “disabling the camera” involves black electrical tape / a hammer, nothing else will disable it.

            1. One of the nice things about the Samsung and Android Nook App, is once the book is downloaded, I can turn off Wireless, which effectively disables the camera. Phone’s not. But if they want to watch paint dry, out my back pocket, covered by a shirt … I mean we’re probably MORE boring … Puppy & Cat pictures for the win. I rarely use it to read on, except when out to eat … Oh, they learned Thursday night was Pizza Night …. Banff/Jasper Canada trip I used it … on Airplane mode … I’m cheap, refused to pay roaming charges.

              1. You can turn off wireless on all the kindles, too. I usually have my oasis with internet access turned off, because the battery lasts longer and I carry that thing all day, everywhere.

                1. 8″ Samsung with Nook (not the Nook version, but Nook is practically the only thing I use on it) … Use it all day at home. Samsung Phone with Nook … who knew that the same settings set on the 8″ carried over to the phone (Library setup & contents, if not downloaded items) … Since I always have the phone with me, why carry both? I just need to beware of the page number currently on as when 8″ isn’t connected it doesn’t tattle which book or page number. 8″ is easier to read, as much as I read. Phone is just a backup. Also carries over to the Simple Nook … but lent that to my sister … with purchase locked by password, which she doesn’t have. We don’t share 100% same reading tropes, but some overlap. She has KU, but hasn’t shared her password. That’s okay, I’ve got two TBR sublibraries setup with well over 100 titles in them … Bookbud is my nemesis.

                  To the app spies out there, if knowing I like fiction by Sarah Hoyt, Heinlein, Norton, Stirling, Hunter, Briggs, Osborne, etc.. Really? Boy are standards slipping …

    3. “By the way, isn’t Kindle a really ironic name for a book reader?”

      They’re using it in the sense of starting an interest. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it……

    4. Second to last question: yes, Amazon offers reader apps for computers. I’m not familiar with them. You can also move ebooks from the Kindle to a computer and vice versa. There are ways to strip the DRM so you can read the books through Calibre. Haven’t done it myself. Yet.

      Going to the first question, no problem. I buy and download my books. AFAIK, all the books I’ve purchased are still on my Kindle. I put the Kindle online for the purchase and take it offline when I’m done. It’s straightforward to move ebooks back and forth between a computer and Kindle. Removing DRM is possible; haven’t messed with it. Yet.

      FWIW, the books that Amazon deleted were (according to a 2009 article) copies of 1984 and Animal Farm sold by someone who didn’t have rights to do so. I don’t know if Amazon would have been in legal jeopardy if they hadn’t removed (and refunded the payments) from people’s Kindles. I assume their legal team thought they would be.

      The irony of quietly removing 1984 is not lost, however.

      1. straightforward to move ebooks back and forth

        OK, have to correct myself. Amazon gives instructions about how to move files from computer to Kindle, but *not* the other way. I set up the Linux box so it could see the Kindle main file system, but with normal tools, the Amazon-provided ebooks are invisible to the Linux system.

        In the morning (when I’m on the more-open bandwidth period), I’ll download my eBooks to the computer, and look at the shove-to-Kindle process.

        1. OK, it’s more of a mess than I thought. As best as I can tell, you can download Kindle ebooks to a registered device, and a computer is a legitimate target, provided it handles one of the following:
          Kindle for PC
          Kindle for Mac
          Kindle for Android

          Kindle for Linux is conspicuous by its absence. This can be worked around with the Wine application, but you have to find an older version, available at “filehippo dot com”. Version 1.21 of K for PC will work. The version from Amazon will not install.

          I had a PC set up with the Kindle application, but that app was required to download. When I switched the machine to Linux, the Amazon device pointer was lost.

          Further complicating: According to Amazon, content downloaded on a registered device is only readable on that particular device. You are allowed (AFAIK) to have copies on both devices, but you can’t move from one to the other.

          OTOH, it’s (I’m told) possible to strip the DRM for archive copies. I have not looked into this just yet. Also, Amazon offers a way to download content to a computer, then to copy it via USB to a Kindle. I assume it’s not supposed to be readable. I tried this, but didn’t have luck with the non-registered computer.

          Oh yeah, you can use cloud storage (ecch!) and read content via a browser on whatever device.

    5. By the way, isn’t Kindle a really ironic name for a book reader? Unless you’re reading Fahrenheit 451, that is.

      I think they may have had the idea of books multiplying like rabbits. That is another meaning of “kindle”.

        1. “…kindling is the word referring to [rabbits] giving birth. Cows calve, horses foal, pigs farrow, sheep lamb, and rabbits kindle.”

            1. This would seem to be the place to insert a tastes-just-like-chicken joke … But that would be tasteless …

    1. Good advice, I bought my copy the same evening as the first part came out!
      Highly recommended!

        1. Done. 5 more stars.

          Note to TXRed: I got the same Amazon message about the review possibly being delayed “a few days” as happened for the last Familiar book.

              1. In my experiments, once you’ve ticked off the notification box it goes away.

                If not in a minute, in a minute and a huff.

                  1. WP has been rather inconsistent about notifying. It used to email my own comments but hasn’t done that in years. Other people’s comments seem to arrive at about two-thirds of what is posted, but that can be rough to judge unless you have kept track of arrivals and know how many comments of your own to subtract from the post total …

                    I do occasionally receive notifications of comments that omit the new comment … those I have to search for the time-stamp.


  2. I use a apple I-pad and an Android tablet as my readers, and I have both Nook and Kindle apps on both. Neither of them are continually connected to the internet, and store my books on the devices.

    I dimly remember reading something about Kindle removing books, didn’t it involve copyright violations or something like that? Before I had started buying e-books.

    1. I believe the kindle book pull back was a licensing fight over several books (including 1984 of all things) where Physical publisher had granted rights to someone else for some stuff and they had decided it meant electronic too. Physical publisher complained (and threatened) Amazon, and Amazon pulled the copies. This was contemporary with my first (Gen 3) kindle so mid 2011? I think Amazon ultimately refunded costs by giving essentially gift certificates good ONLY in the kindle store to those who had lost content in this mess.

    2. I haven’t downloaded the Amazon Kindle App, yet. Mostly because I’m lazy. B&N keeps track of what I’ve already purchased & won’t let me duplicate, which I’d be in danger of doing if I was dealing with multiple sources …

      My big complaint with B&N (they haven’t been disappeared “yet”) is they take advantage of “hiding” files on Android devices, including what is explicitly stored on SD cards. Didn’t use to be true. Still takes up space on the device, but can’t be “seen”**. When reading eBook is always downloaded. I have the Android app downloaded onto my Samsung Tablet and my Samsung Phone. I have the Windows app on my PC.

      Windows App on the PC, you can find the files. But boy do they bury the directory (C:\Users\(log-in-user)\AppData\Local\Packages\BarnesNoble.Nook_ahnzqzva31enc\LocalState) and they scramble/encode(?) book names. I use Calibre to pull in the files (which decrypts with the correct Calibre add-in). Don’t “lose” downloaded files from B&N unless you log out of the app on a device. Even then you still have the online library. Been doing this since I went to eBooks. Have already had 3 other sites go away. Two of which were bought by B&N and were “eventually” incorporated into my B&N library (like over 2 years); I’d already saved and retained them.

      Lesson has been well learned.

      ** I’m sure there is a hack to by pass this on Android apps that pull this, just haven’t bothered.

      1. B&N keeps track of what I’ve already purchased & won’t let me duplicate,

        Amazon does the same … sorta.

        If you’ve bought a book in hardback and subsequently click on the paperback edition … or the e-edition, or audio version there is no notice asking whether you know what you’re doing. Same with DVD and Blu-ray versions, and I presume VHS as well.

        Also with re-issued books, which can be a bit of a nuisance for those of us who like all books in a series to have uniform bindings.

        One more instance of letting the buyer be wary, I reckon.

        1. To be clear. They track what you have in your eBook online library. Paperback, hardback, audio, not so much.

          Should an event like the Emberverse occur, my eLibrary is “missing in action”, so to speak. OTOH given where we are at, we’d be too busy packing & running. Given the rules of the Emberverse, my dead tree collection is going to be left behind as being ruled as “too heavy” to pack along.

  3. When we reconstruct the tectonic plates as they would have existed at the time, all these form an equatorial swath; some therefore propose that Earth was hit by a recently-broken family

    Isn’t this compatible with the Chicxulub impactor with it just being the core body which had broken up partially living the line of smaller bodies? Are the locations not compatible?

    1. No, I think that’s kinda the point. It’s entirely possible that the Chicxulub impact was the parent body and the others, fragments thereof. Or something like that. As I said, “a sufficient condition is a sufficient condition.” But such things do happen.

  4. This option is simply, “Choose one from column A, one from column B, one from column C,” until sufficient conditions are reached for the observed data.

    But a sufficient condition is a sufficient condition, and the incredible chain of events brought about by the Chicxulub impact would have been a more-than-sufficient condition.

    So, you show ’em a smoking gun right next to the body, and they argue, “But, there are knives in the kitchen, a fireplace poker in the study, drain cleaner in the bathroom, shovels and rakes and implements of destruction in the garage, why do you think he was killed with the gun?”

    It’s still hard to picture the scale of that disaster, caused by what was, in cosmic terms, a grain of sand moving at a moderate velocity. There are phenomena out there that wouldn’t have left a planet behind.
    G’Kar: “Isn’t the universe a wonderful place? I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

      1. Pansy gun. Should be smoking Marlboros. Unless of course it’s a Walther PPK or some other European piece in which case Galois’ might be in order.

        1. “Malboro, mild as May.” & “Ivory tip protect the lips.” was the original marketing, until westerns became popular on 1950’s TV.

          For example:

        1. Of course, my da used to don a chesterfield before stepping outside for to smoke a pipe …

          Cut quite a dashing figure, too.

        2. I recall the folks always called such things simply a “couch” (but the footrest was a hassock) and grandma (paternal) called such a “davenport.”

          1. As the young woman said, “Any Dave in a port!”

            “Oh Jack has grown much prettier since last she went away …”

        1. Hmm holding people captive is less Tolkien Elf and more Sidhe. Although truthfully it’s just cat. We joke at our house that we are our felines Food, Box and Play Slaves. At least our Feline overlords treat us well.

      1. My nonhumans are looking at you in some alarm…

        ….see, when they do interstellar war, they throw rocks.

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