A peer -review of his 1980 work confirms his theory. It always made sense to me, but I’ve wondered – how did Raquel Welch survive?
Thirty years ago, UC Berkeley geologist Walter Alvarez offered his revolutionary answer to that question and incited one of the liveliest controversies in modern science.
Now, an international team of scientists says today the issue is settled: Alvarez was right.
In 1980, Alvarez and his colleagues at Berkeley theorized that a monstrous asteroid 10 miles wide slammed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula about 65 million years ago and dug a crater 60 miles wide and 15 miles deep. The impact sent up a huge cloud of ash, soot, pulverized rock and sulfurous steam that darkened the skies for years like a nuclear winter, dooming more than half the world’s life on land and in the oceans – microorganisms, plants and animals.
The dinosaurs, those iconic beasts that had ruled the world for 160 million years, also vanished in that long-lasting cataclysm, the Alvarez team maintained.
They found worldwide layers of clay containing the rare metallic element iridium that was scattered by the crashing asteroid; they found the crater caused by the asteroid impact just off the Yucatan Peninsula at Chicxulub (pronounced CHIC-shoo-loob); and they found tiny spherules of shocked quartz both inside the crater and far beyond the crash site, from Australia to Europe.