Chicxulub drilling to return in 2019, on both land and sea

The Chicxulub drill site was not far off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Chicxulub drill site was not far off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mérida, Yucatán — Excited by what they found off the coast of Yucatán, scientists are returning for seconds.

Researchers have decided to keep studying at the site of the Chicxulub Crater impact, finding it to be the best-preserved vestige of an ancient asteroid strike.

The offshore area is the world’s only crater site with intact topographic peaks.

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In core samples obtained from a drilling platform, scientists removed the remains of unicellular organisms such as algae and plankton — as well as the burrows of larger organisms.

The 2016 scientific drilling was conducted jointly by the International Ocean Discovery Program and International Continental Drilling Program.

About 40 researchers from the United States, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Canada, China and European countries, which are part of the expedition, have regrouped in a city hotel this week.

Scientists will continue drilling in 2019, so they can gather more rocky samples.

The project leader, Jaime Urrutia Fucugauchi, of the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said drilling will occur not only at sea, but on land between Mérida and Progreso.

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“We will analyze which sites will be drilled on land. In the marine part it would be again in front of Sisal, as it was done two years ago and in another remote point, near Celestún, which is where the peninsula turns. This will be done taking into account the mappings made by UNAM ships,” explained the academic, a specialist in Geomagnetism and Exploration.

Researchers are seeking funding for this very expensive venture, which in 2016 cost between 300 and 400 million pesos.

Urrutia Fucugauchi said that the project examines the structure of the crater, which gives clues as to how life recovered after the impact’s destruction.

The crater impact ended the reign of the dinosaurs and wiped out 76 percent of species on Earth 66 million years ago.

But the researchers have determined that sea life returned less than a decade after the impact, and a thriving ecosystem was in place within 30,000 years.

Sources: Sipse, Sci News

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