Scientists To Drill Into Dinosaur-Killing-Asteroid Crater

A huge space object crashed into what is now Mexico 65.5 million years ago, and left a huge crater known as Chicxulub. A team of scientists is set to drill 1,500 meters below its surface in order to investigate the mysteries that it left behind, writes Jeanna Bryner for the Christian Science Monitor.

Chicxulub crater: Drilling into the peak ring

By extracting a core from the crater, the team will be able to delve 10-15 million years into the past. Such an endeavor would be the first offshore core taken from near the center of the crater, which takes its name from a nearby village on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Scientists from around the world met in the city of Mérida, Mexico, last week, to discuss plans for the project, which is scheduled to begin in spring 2016. The project arose from the first subsurface images of the asteroid impact crater, which allowed the team to pinpoint the best area from which to take a sample.

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By drilling a spot from the mountainlike structures around the center of the crater, known as the peak ring, scientists will gain further knowledge of ancient biological and geological processes.

Investigating theoretical model

It is thought that high-velocity asteroid impacts on Earth cause the crust to behave like a liquid, with the impact center rebounding up and out of the crater. Scientists believe that the aforementioned mountainlike structures are evidence of the splashed material.

The theory is based on models and scientists have never retrieved rock from a peak ring, and this latest research could confirm their beliefs, as well as allowing them to investigate the process that made the Earth’s granite crust weaken and behave like a liquid.