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For impactevents on Earth that form craters larger than approximately 1 km across, the pressures and temperatures produced upon impact are sufficient to completely melt and even vaporize the impacting body and some of the target rocks, though a small fraction of the impactor can locally be preserved for even the largest impacts.
The tendency to discount impact processes as a factor in the Earth's more recent geologic history was severely challenged by the interpretation in 1980 that Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary sediments world-wide were due to a major impactevent and that impact was the causal agent for a mass extinctionevent.
The Tunguskaevent in 1908 was due to the atmospheric explosion of a relatively small, approximately few tens of metres, body at an altitude of 10 km.
Impactcratering research has gained attention throughout the world following the suggestion that a large impactevent caused the extinction of about 50% of all living species, including the dinosaurs, approximately 65 million years ago.
Based on apparent correspondences between periodicities observed in the marine extinction record and in the terrestrial impact record, some scientists have suggested that large meteoriteimpacts might be the metronome that sets the cadence of biological evolution on Earth —; an unproved but intriguing hypothesis.
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