• Thu. Jan 27th, 2022


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Only asteroids that hit a certain mineral trigger a mass extinction

Asteroid strike

What an asteroid hits may matter more than how hard

guvendemir/Getty Images

Throughout Earth’s history, our planet has been bombarded with countless number of meteorites, ranging in size from rock fragments that barely leave an imprint to huge kilometre-size boulders that wiped out huge swathes of life. But do all large impacts lead to mass extinctions? Perhaps not – as geologists have found that the mineral make-up of the rocks a meteorite hits matters just as much as its size.

Large impacts produce ejecta, in which huge amounts of dust is thrown into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun. …