From the Guajira Desert to the Apennines, and from Mediterranean Microplates to the Mexican Killer Asteroid: Honoring the Career of Walter Alvarez
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
This volume pays tribute to the great career and extensive and varied scientific accomplishments of Walter Alvarez, on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2020, with a series of papers related to the many topics he covered in the past 60 years: Tectonics of microplates, structural geology, paleomagnetics, Apennine sedimentary sequences, geoarchaeology and Roman volcanics, Big History, and most famously the discovery of evidence for a large asteroidal impact event at the Cretaceous–Tertiary (now Cretaceous–Paleogene) boundary site in Gubbio, Italy, 40 years ago, which started a debate about the connection between meteorite impact and mass extinction. The manuscripts in this special volume were written by many of Walter’s close collaborators and friends, who have worked with him over the years and participated in many projects he carried out. The papers highlight specific aspects of the research and/or provide a summary of the current advances in the field.
The KPg boundary Chicxulub impact-extinction hypothesis: The winding road towards a solid theory
Published:June 21, 2022
J. Smit, 2022. "The KPg boundary Chicxulub impact-extinction hypothesis: The winding road towards a solid theory", From the Guajira Desert to the Apennines, and from Mediterranean Microplates to the Mexican Killer Asteroid: Honoring the Career of Walter Alvarez, Christian Koeberl, Philippe Claeys, Alessandro Montanari
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Along with the origin of life, the quest for the ultimate cause of the end of the dinosaurs and ~72% of other species is one of the most publicized questions in the history of our planet. So, it probably should not have come as a surprise that when Walter Alvarez and his team launched the impact-extinction theory, the opposition and the resistance against the theory was strong from the beginning and continues up to the present day. This paper follows the winding road around the roadblocks that were set up against the theory and how both the opposition against and accumulation of new data, e.g., the finding of the Chicxulub impact structure and extraterrestrial Cr isotope ratios to further develop the theory, went hand in hand. Often the roadblocks were overcome, but new ones were set up, and in the struggle to surmount these, the proponents were forced to look back on their arguments, to carefully re-formulate their viewpoints, and to check whether tunnel-vision had developed that might prevent seeing the data available in a different light. However, looking back on the competition among proponents and opponents 40 years later, the impact-extinction theory is stronger than ever before. It has survived and matured from a hypothesis into a well-established theory, although many questions remain to be solved.