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Re: Sulfate 'n soot kills dinos!

On Sat, 16 Mar 2002 15:58:20  
 John Bois wrote:
>According to Kevin Pope in _Impact dust not the cause of the
>Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction_, Geology, Feb 2002, pp99-102, impact
>dust is not the cause of the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction.
>Can anyone tell me how this works--
>Is there lots of acid rain (frog-killing acid rain)?

I haven't read the paper, but I assume you are asking if high sulfate levels 
lead to acid rain?  If so, the answer is yes.  Sulfate (SO4) can decompose into 
SO3 and O (ozone).  The SO3 can then combine with water to form sulfuric acid, 
which is "acid rain."  Much of the same process happens with the burning of 
sulfurous bituminous coal, except instead of SO4 decomposing, the sulfur from 
the coal combines with oxygen to form SO2, which then combines with another 
oxygen molecule to form two molecules of SO3.  More chemistry.    

>Do all forests start burning, even wet tropical forests?

I don't know.  Perhaps.

>What is the length of time sulfate remains aloft compared to dust?

I don't know for sure, but I would think that sulfate could remain in the air 
longer than dust, as dust is ostensibly solid and quite heavy compared with 
much of the gas in the atmosphere.

>Would you expect a global signature--is there one?

Hmmm....I don't know if there would be one.  I don't know if sulfuric acid 
leaves much of a trace after 65 million years.

>Does this fit the extinction pattern as-well-as, or better-than, the dust?

I would say that, based on the data and experiments discussed onlist so far, it 
is as likely of a hypothesis.  Only further testing will lead to a better 
understanding of what really happened.


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