The data suggests that on impact, the rocks flew out, creating a ring protrusion around the crater. Lizards, snakes, mammals and more suffered their own setbacks.
Using a core sample collected in 2016, University of Texas at Austin geologist Sean Gulick and a team of dozens of other researchers have further pieced together the story of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction.
The new research showed scientists that the impact "created a huge tidal wave that washed across this continent, and really changed the face of the planet in that location - or, really, changed the face of the planet overall entirely", Pitts said. According to the research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, nearly 425 feet of material was deposited on the first day.
The drill site was selected to investigate the series of events that followed the impact.
Most of the material that filled the crater within hours of impact was produced at the impact site or was swept in by seawater pouring back into the crater from the surrounding Gulf of Mexico. Such devastating upheaval triggers a cascading sequence of natural disasters, sending tsunamis rolling across the oceans and ejecting an enormous amount of debris into the atmosphere.
A section of one of the core samples. Melted rock, charcoal, and a curious absence of sulphur in the cores are some of the telltale signatures of the impact event.
Scientists say they have spotted evidence of what it was like on the first day after the dinosaur-killing impact event, thanks to an analysis of rock taken from the famous Chixculub crater. The Chicxulub crater is located offshore from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Soon, the ring would have been covered by more than a hundred feet of so-called shocked rock, deformed by the high heat and pressure. This rate of accumulation means that the rocks recorded what was happening in the environment within and around the crater in the minutes and hours after impact, and can also give us clues about the longer-lasting effects of the impact. Then a tsunami hit.
The explosion from the impact instantly triggered various wildfires inland. Debris from the charred woods washed out to sea, and some accumulated in the crater. "We fried them and then we froze them", Gulick said.
"The real killer has to be atmospheric", Gulick said in a statement detailing the study's findings. The geological area around the crater has large deposits of sulfur, suggesting that the impact vaporized sulfur-bearing minerals and released the sulfur into the atmosphere. If you were elsewhere on Earth the first effect might well be the quake energy arriving through the ground from the impact or perhaps the arrival of ejecta from the crater raining down and causing heating and wildfires. The researchers noted that these events led to the loss of around 75 percent of all known species on Earth. Had the impact occurred elsewhere, or in a place of deeper ocean water, the extinction may have happened differently, or not at all.
Finally, the wave that flooded the land would return, depositing soil and other material it picked up from the shore.
Scientists knew the first day of the Cenozoic started with a bang, and now they have a better sense of the fallout.