April 29-30 symposium explores mystery of dinosaurs’ death

dying dinosaur

Dinosaur lovers of all stripes are invited to a two-day symposium the weekend of April 29-30 to hear scientists debate the two reigning theories about how they died: asteroids vs volcanoes.

The symposium, “What Killed the Dinosaurs: A Fresh Look at One of Earth’s Greatest Mysteries,” will feature some of the world’s top experts on the mass extinction 66 million years ago and the geological and astronomical events that may have caused it.

Organized by the Berkeley Geochronology Center and UC Berkeley, the talks will probe what is known and not known about why the dinosaurs and many other organisms became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period, the so-called Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, boundary.

A major goal of the symposium is to identify what is needed to finally resolve a decades-old debate about whether an asteroid or comet impact, massive volcanic eruptions or both were responsible.

To be held at the campus’s Faculty Club, the sessions will feature speakers such as UC Berkeley geologist Walter Alvarez, who was one of the scientists who first proposed that an asteroid or comet slammed into Earth and killed off the dinosaurs and much of Earth’s life.

The roster of dinosaur experts, paleontologists, geologists, geophysicists and volcanologists also includes:

  • Jan Smit, Free University of Amsterdam, who studies the Chicxulub crater off the coast of Yucatan, where a massive asteroid struck just before the extinction;
  • David Evans, Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto, an expert on dinosaur evolution prior to the extinction;
  • Paul Renne, Berkeley Geochronology Center and UC Berkeley, who has provided the best dates so far of the asteroid impact and massive lava flows that are thought to have caused the extinction;
  • Mark Richards, UC Berkeley, who has proposed that the asteroid or comet impact reignited massive volcanism on the opposite side of the world, providing the one-two punch that caused the extinction.

To sign up to attend, at a cost of $6 per day, link to the Eventbrite reservation system.

Symposium program