Researchers To Dig Below Chicxulub Crater To Study Dinosaur Extinction Event

Researchers To Dig Below Chicxulub Crater To Study Dinosaur Extinction Event

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Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin are seeking a core sample from the Chicxulub crater that marks the remains of an asteroid impact which ended the age of the dinosaurs nearly 66 million years ago.

They plan to drill nearly 5,000 feet beneath the seabed’s surface in an effort to unravel mysteries of the dinosaur extinction event. The core sample obtained in this two-month-long effort will be the first ever obtained from the center of the Chicxulub crater, which is located near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

After ruling the earth for 135 million years, the dinosaurs were killed after an asteroid slammed into the planet about 65 million years ago. Now, researchers are planning to acquire and closely examine a sample from the 125-mile-wide impact site near the Yucatan Peninsula.

Sean Gulick from the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), and the lead author of the study, said, “We currently have very few samples of the impact crater from this apocalyptic event, but our team of international researchers is hoping to change that. We plan to take the first offshore core samples from near the center of the impact crater caused by the nine-mile-wide asteroid. The samples will be taken from the crater’s ‘peak ring’, which is an area of elevated rocks surrounding the crater’s center.”

The researchers stated that by analyzing these features they hope to gain insight into the ancient impact and the chain of events that caused one of the most significant mass extinctions in history. The samples could also reveal traces of ancient life hidden within the rocks.

“The sediments that filled in the [crater] should have the record for organisms living on the sea floor and in the water that were there for the first recovery after the mass extinction event. The hope is we can watch life come back,” added Gulick.

The expedition is planned for spring 2016, and received about $10 million in funding.