A group of researchers at the International Ocean Discovery Program announced that they plan to take a closer look at the impact site of asteroid Chicxulub, which supposedly wiped out the dinosaurs.
The team hopes to find more details on the mass extinction event and the reemergence of life following the cosmic event. IODP researchers are currently preparing for a trip to the small town Chicxulub in the Mexican state of Yucatán where the impact crater lies. The endeavor, which costs about $10 million, is slated for this spring.
Though there isn’t a general scientific consensus on what killed off the dinosaurs, the death-by-asteroid hypothesis is widely accepted.
According to the theory, the 6-mile wide asteroid called Chicxulub crashed near current-day Chicxulub at the end of Cretaceous wiping out the dinosaurs. The resulting crater, known as the Chicxulub crater, has a diameter of 100 miles and a depth of 12 miles.
The crater is rather different from other impact craters on Earth both in size and shape. It has some specific rocky ridges that emerged in the wake of the highly energetic collision. Researchers explained that Chicxulub is the only crater to have such a perfectly preserved peak ring.
Sean Gulick of the The University of Texas at Austin who will be also involved in the research noted that other similar impact craters are either located on other planets or have been eroded.
Gulick explained that impact craters so perfectly preserved were spotted only on the Moon or other planets. On our planet, such craters are gradually destroyed by erosion.
But IODP’s endeavor won’t be easy. The researchers will sail to the impact site and place a boat right above the peak ring. Next, the boat will be lifted on three pylons to form a stable platform from where scientists can conduct drilling operations. The team plans to have the platform ready in April, and conduct operations over the next two months.
According to the IODP, scientists would drill 1 mile deep into the crater to gather rock samples. The samples will help researchers learn more about the crater’s geology, history, and ancient microbial inhabitants.
The team also wants to gain a deeper understanding on the consequences of such a collision on humans, though NASA and other space agencies have reassured us that no such impact will threaten humanity in the foreseeable future.
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