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Creating an
Earth System II

Creating an Earth System II:

Examining the Potential Effects of an Asteroid Impact

Each group of teachers was assigned to think about the following:
An asteroid hits the Earth. What would be the ramifications of such an event? How would this impact each of the spheres? You will realize that there are some uncertainties that will depend on certain variables. What are those variables concerning the impact that might modify the effects of the impact?



  1. Location: Where did it hit? Land or sea? If it hit on land, where? - Desert, mountains, areas of high or low population?

  2. Size, as well as speed, angle:
    If an impact is small then the season that it hits, might also be of importance.

  3. Composition of the asteroid


If the asteroid hits on land, there would be a huge amount of dust thrown up into the atmosphere. If it hits in water, then there would be an increase in water vapor in the atmosphere. This would result in an increase in rain resulting in landslides and mudslides.

Regionally there might be earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis due to the increase in kinetic energy. If the asteroid is large enough, these could be global in impact.

image courtesey

Environmental Damage from Asteroid and Comet Impacts

Although speculative, the author, Michael Paine suggests the effects of asteroid diameters of 1 km, 2 km, 5 km, and 10 km. He looks at everything from the diameter of the crater to resulting firestorms, dust storms and changes in the atmosphere and the effects on the biosphere.

Resources on Mass Extinctions

Where Did Everybody Go?
Teacher guide for a unit on the possible causes of mass extinctions at the K-T boundary. Appropriate for grades 6-8.

Dinosaur Extinction
A reasonably thorough and accurate, non-technical summary of the hypotheses of dinosaur extinction, including (but not limited to) asteroid impact.

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