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Press Release 97-015
New Findings More Dramatic Than Television

Ocean researchers report new evidence of meteorite impact as NBC-TV premiers "Asteroid"

February 16, 1997

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

National Science Foundation (NSF) officials today congratulated an international team of researchers who have recovered new evidence of a large Caribbean meteorite impact that occurred 65 million years ago. Many scientists believe that meteorite collision with earth led to the extinction of dinosaurs and other species.

NSF Assistant Director for Geosciences Dr. Robert W. Corell praised the scientists whose drill ship, the JOIDES Resolution, came into the Port of Charleston, SC on Friday, February 14 and who reported their findings following a one-month research expedition.

"In my view," Corell said, "this is the most significant discovery in geosciences in 20 years. Deep sea sediment cores collected during the expedition provide a remarkable record of the meteorite's impact and the resulting debris--which may have triggered a serious decline in the globe's temperature and created a kind of 'nuclear winter' that drove dinosaurs and other species to extinction."

"Even more significant," according to Corell, "is that the team's deep sea sediment cores show the slow process of the earth's long rejuvenation and recovery from this catastrophe."

"Here's a case where science shows how real life is more cataclysmic and amazing than television or Hollywood - with all their special effects - can depict. The impact of the asteroid featured in tonight's NBC-TV show, "Asteroid," is peanuts compared to the real thing faced by the world 65 million years ago."

"I heartily congratulate Dr. Richard Norris of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the other co-chief scientists of the expedition. Their work will assist us in better understanding the earth's past and in determining the ocean's role in global climate change in the future."

JOIDES Resolution is the world's largest scientific research vessel. It is operated by the Ocean Drilling Program, which is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation and research agencies in 19 foreign countries.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Cheryl L. Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-8070, cdybas@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Robert Corell, NSF, (703) 292-8500, rcorrell@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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