A team of 100 scientists from Mexico, the United States, Canada and Europe will soon be starting a new study of the famous Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatan. This geological feature is the point of impact of the huge asteroid that is believed to have wiped out 75 percent of all life on Earth 65 million years ago. Many scientists believe that consequences of this cataclysm contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
In March-April 2016, the scientists will start drilling in the rim of the crater, perforating the rock to a depth of 1,500 meters. This will take place at sea on a platform 40 kilometers off the Yucatan coast.
By analyzing the sediments collected from the drill site, scientists will be able to study the rocks in the crater rim – similar to those found in craters on the Moon –, trace what happened after the explosion and how long it took life to recover, identify when mammals made their appearance in the area.
The sediments will also yield evidence of climate change, variations in the earth’s magnetic field, vegetation and life forms associated with periods of glaciation and warming and more.
The impact of the asteroid caused marine rocks to fracture and as sea levels fell, the limestone shelf became the flat landscape of the northern Yucatan. The zone of rocks surrounding the crater rim is known as the fragmentation belt and is dotted with cenotes that formed over time as fissures and faults in the rock were eroded and enlarged. There are so many of them that it is known as the Ring of Cenotes and the new study of the Chicxulub Crater will help geologists understand more about their formation.