The Next K-T Level Extinction Event

When the next giant asteroid hits, assume it hits as far from me as is possible given the geometry of the Earth (which would mean somewhere in the Indian Ocean near Australia, if my calculations are correct).

Basically, how long have I got to live? I’m about 700 miles as the crow flies from the nearest ocean, so I’m going to assume tsunamis aren’t a concern. I’m also guessing that I’m far enough away from the initial impact that the shock wave won’t be an immediate concern. But what happens next? Do I have a few years to starve to death as food supplies dwindlie? Or does the whole atmosphere immediately incincerate everything, myself included?

You’ll probably die of starvation in a “nuclear” winter that follows the impact rather than being killed by the impact itself.

How long you would live would depend on a number of factors. Maybe even live to old age with luck and if you are resourceful.

Most of the world’s population would die though.

Really, it depends on how well you and the people around you prepared for it. If we had, say, two years warning, and the governments of the world had a chance to prepare, then the answer to “how long do you have to live” depends on whether you get regular exercise, avoid saturated and trans fats, and have a low family history of cancer. Similarly, if you’re a Mormon or other pragmatist who has a few years’ worth of food stored up in the basement, and the resources to protect your stash from any less-ethical neighbors. The way mass extinctions work is, you end up with about five years of poor plant growth, after which growth starts coming back, so you really just need to store enough food to last that long.

Oh, and you probably don’t actually want to be as far away from the impact site as possible: The opposite point of the Earth from the impact would actually get hit pretty hard from all the shockwaves converging. You’re probably better off with something about 2/3 of the way around the Earth, and preferably on the opposite side of the Equator.

Here’s a fun video of a supposed 500km asteroid hitting Earth.

Of course that is right off he charts of a K-T asteroid (about 10km IIRC) and a 100% kill everything on the globe sort of thing but fun to watch anyway (not for real of course).

Note around 3:25 being the last spot to get blown away (opposite side from impact). Fun place to be as doom approaches from all around you at the same time. (Best part is doing it all to a PInk Floyd tune ) :slight_smile:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zvCUmeoHpw (watch in HD if you have a good connection)

Why is the asteroid glowing from the inside (before it even reaches the atmosphere)?
Or, in other words, were any real scientists or engineers involved in making this video, or is it just some artist’s idea of cool visuals?

Discovery Channel did it so could be either I guess.

I am sure the asteroid is glowing just for looks.

I suspect an asteroid that big hitting the earth would be something akin to this though. Certainly it would extinguish all life on Earth (perhaps some bacteria or something might survive way underground…I do not know).

Posted it just for fun though as a visualization.

I think that extinguishing all life is virtually impossible at this point. There are bacteria that can survive just about any condition we can imagine - everything from ice to superheated water and from airborne to underground. There are critters living in Yellowstone geysers that might see this kind of devastation as the best thing that ever happened to them.

Given a decade or two of warning, my guess is that a few humans would survive too.

The Mormons will be OK,

500km is ridiculously off the charts. Only Ceres, Pallas, and Vesta are that large of non-planetary objects inside Jupiter’s orbit. That sort of impact hasn’t occurred since Earth was still sweeping up other planetesimals in its orbit.

I am definitely not an expert in this field, but from what I’ve read, two things are significant.

First is the impact itself. Debris from the KT impact in the Yukatan peninsula rained down as far away as Kentucky. I’m not talking about dust being carried away by the atmosphere either. I’m talking actual debris, the stuff that goes up and comes right back down again. That was a heck of a whack. I’m wondering just how big of an earthquake you get from that as the shock wave propagates around the earth. Depending on what kind of a building you live in, you might be killed by a building collapse.

Assuming you live through that, the second significant thing (as I understand it) is the fact that evidence of fire has been found at the KT boundary pretty much all over the world. This means that the entire surface of the world caught fire. One article I read (sorry, can’t remember the cite) indicated that it was burning dust and debris kicked up by the explosion that literally rained fire down to earth and caught everything below on fire. Whether that’s accurate or not, you’re still basically talking about some kind of fire pretty much everywhere. The phrase “hell on earth” suddenly comes to mind.

I can imagine all of our food crops being destroyed and most of our food animals being killed in the fires, no matter where on earth they happened to be at the time. Sure, some of the plants will survive, but they are just going to be the seedlings that sprout up through the ashes. Maybe a few animals were in metal roof barns that didn’t burn and such, but even if a few plants and animals survive there’s no way we’re going to be able to feed everyone. I don’t picture our food supplies slowly dwindling. I picture everyone rushing out to Wally World (walmart) and whatever local grocery stores you have and fighting over the canned goods. I personally recommend trying the grocery stores first. Walmart sells ammunition, and I have a hunch people are gonna get snippy when they realize they are probably going to starve to death.

I figure you’ve got until your canned food runs out, so I’m thinking months, not years.

And you definitely don’t want to be on the opposite side of the earth. As Chronos pointed out, that’s where all of the shock waves converge. That’s going to be Volcano Central for quite some time. Just what you’ll need, too. Not only were a bizillion tons of dust and debris kicked up into the atmosphere by the initial impact, now you’ve got a whole bunch of new volcanoes spewing their own clouds of dust and poisonous gases. Sounds like a fun time for all, eh?

Mormon’s stock food in their basements for disasters?

52 weeks worth at a minimum if they’re good. A friend of the family who is big into the temple has enough food and drink to last him well beyond his years here on Earth. Ammunition, too, but that’s another story.

And here I was hoping I could make a crack related to thaumaturgical undergarments. :smack:

Not especially to the point, but there’s a novel by Will Hubbell called Cretaceous Sea, which has (stranded, time-travelling) humans inadvertently experiencing the KT Event as it affects them in Montana. As I recall, it’s quite descriptive, both as the shockwaves, etc. hit, and the aftermath as they try to survive…

The most attention-grabbing phrase I’ve heard repeated regarding the K-T event is “set the atmosphere on fire.” I mean, ow!

Another good comment is the speculation that the impact was possibly the single loudest sound ever heard.

Don’t forget to run to the store for milk and toilet paper before the impact winter sets in.

Damn straight.

Being at the antipode of an extinction impact is only second to being at ground zero for “not a nice place to be”. - read about the Siberian Traps, opposite the Permo-Triassic impact, or the Deccan in India. Imagine enough lava to cover 7million km[sup]2[/sup]. 4 million km[sup]3[/sup] of the stuff. “Hell on Earth” is about right.

Are the Traps (Deccan and Siberian) supposed to have been caused by impact events? Typically in the schlocky History channel shows I watch, the volcanic Traps are depicted as a competing theory to impact theories, and I’ve not seen them explicitly called a result of impact.

I swear to Jebus, I read the subject as The Next K-Tel Extinction Event.

Troubled by the occasional pain and itch of asteroids? You need Preparation A!

The Traps were caused by ‘hot spots’ where mantle magma was able to make its way to the surface (more or less – it’s a complex process involving melting crust, suberranean water under pressure, etc., over a mantle plume). The Deccan-Traps one is still somewhat active, under the Mauritius-Reunion-Rodriguez island group. Other active hot spots include Hawaii and Yellowstone.

Generally, the K-T transition is thought by most scholars to have been caused by a complex of factors: the Deccan Traps, the Laramide and related Orogenies, and the Chicxulub impact, the first two having put stress on the ecosystem and the last delivering the coup de grace. (You can pull up reputable scholars who will allege that any one of these was “the” cause, but there’s an emerging consensus that looks at the combination of factors as causative. (Think of modern interpretations of the causes of World War One – the complex of political, sociological, and economic factors leading up to Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, which would not have triggered a cataclysmic series of events but for what else had preceded it.)

But wait! There’s more!