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Can Asteroid Impact Events cause Lava Flows on the other side of the Planet? March 10, 2010

Posted by Daniel Benjamin Smith (dsmith77) in Science.
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I was watching a television show about the origin of our Earth on television last night (3/9/2010). Sorry, I don’t recall the name or channel.

Anyway, it mentioned that a crater was discovered in the gulf of mexico that was 100 miles across and stipulated that this dated correctly to be the smoking gun that killed off the dinosaurs. It also mentioned massive lava flows in India – lava so thick that whole temples had been carved from the rock. These lava flows occurred at about the same time as the asteroid impact.

The show indicated that both events would have spewed matter into the atmosphere, darkening the sun, and eliminating much life on the planet. The show mentioned that scientists did not know which event was more lethal to life but obviously the dinosaurs and much other flora and fauna from that period are now extinct so the combination was extra deadly.

Now, the show didn’t mention but I’m wondering if the impact could have also been the cause for the abundant lava flow. If the impact was massive enough, couldn’t it have sent shockwaves through the earth and in effect pushed lava out on the other side? If two plates colliding on the surface can push hard rock up into mountains couldn’t a large-enough impact compress magma and cause it to rupture in a similar way – but directed away from the impact site so as to absorb the force of the event? Even if the two locations are not geographically on opposite sides of the planet, perhaps the impact was at an angle and lining up the two events would give the trajectory of the impact.

So, is this possible? Has any scientist ever postulated such a consequence from an impact event? Could the two events be related? Could we discover the trajectory of this impact after 65 million years?

Not to make an impact event any more dire, but if this is true then impacts smaller than previously thought would be sufficient to wipe out all life on the planet.

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