A 16-member international team of researchers that includes James Kennett, professor of earth science at UC Santa Barbara, has identified a nearly 13,000-year-old layer of thin, dark sediment buried in the floor of Lake Cuitzeo in central Mexico.
The sediment layer contains an exotic assemblage of materials, including nanodiamonds, impact spherules, and more, which, according to the researchers, are the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.
These new data are the latest to strongly support of a controversial hypothesis proposing that a major cosmic impact with Earth occurred 12,900 years ago at the onset of an unusual cold climatic period called the Younger Dryas.
The researchers' findings appear today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
...In the entire geologic record, there are only two known continent-wide layers with abundance peaks in nanodiamonds, impact spherules, and aciniform soot.
These are in the 65-million-year-old Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary layer that coincided with major extinctions, including the dinosaurs and ammonites; and the Younger Dryas boundary event at 12,900 years ago, closely associated with the extinctions of many large North American animals, including mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth cats, and dire wolves.