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Published on Sep 27, 2009
A visualization of the immediate and long-term environmental effects of the impact event which marked the end of the Cretaceous period, circa 65 mya. Produced by Radek Michalik and David Dolak in collaboration with the Science Institute at Chicago's Columbia College. I DID NOT MAKE THIS.
If such an impact were to occur today, the best strategy for immediate survival would be to be in a different hemisphere when it happened. The kinetic energy of a six-mile-wide rock piling into the earth at 50,000 mph must be conserved, and in order to do this much of this energy is converted to thermal energy - enough to cause third-degree burns from seven hundred and fifty miles away, and to light you on fire if you are much closer. Little to nothing would survive within six hundred miles of the impact zone - note the "scorched earth" appearance of the North American continent at KT + 2 weeks. Other immediate effects include a major earthquake, an airblast capable of leveling forests and buildings, semi-molten ejecta raining from the sky and sparking global wildfires and, once the shockwave reaches the antipodal point of the Earth, massive volcanic eruptions which can last for many thousands of years (such as those that formed the Siberian Traps).
A modern theory states that not one, but several impacts ushered forth the mass extinction to follow, including the impacts which created the Silverpit Crater in the English Channel, and Boltysh Crater in the Ukraine; though neither were as large or devastating as Chicxulub, they are possibly the result of an impact similar to comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter.
The University of Arizona has released a calculator for estimating the effects of small- to large-scale impact events.