The Chicxulub Crater
The Chicxulub crater marks the point of contact where a massive asteroid hit the Earth. The asteroid was so large that it wiped out every dinosaur on the planet. The crater stretches 93 miles in diameter and plunges 12 miles into the ground. It is the second-largest asteroid ever to make impact on the Earth. Experts believe that the asteroid hit 66 million years ago.
This crater is very impressive because its peak ring is still intact. Its long-term preservation is very impressive. The only other crater with a peak ring still intact is located on the moon. Since this isn’t a convenient place for scientists to study, they are thankful or the Chicxulub crater.
The crater got its name from the Mexican town nearby that shares the name. Scientists have been studying the crater, and they have managed to go beyond the topical details. The crater sits more than a mile beneath Mexico’s Yucutan Peninsula. Based on the measurements taken by scientists, the asteroid that hit the Earth had to be up to 50-miles wide. As mentioned earlier, the diameter of the crater is 93 miles, which is just 1.6 miles shorter than the drive between New York City to Philadelphia.
Calculating the Strength
While studying the crater, the experts wanted to know the strength that the rock hit the Earth. They estimate that the asteroid or comet has 21 to 291 billion times as much energy as the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Even the strongest human-made explosive, the Soviet Union’s Tsar Bomba, couldn’t come close to the power from this asteroid.
The Second Deepest
This crater goes 18.6 miles into the ground. This is a very deep hole. It is the second-largest impact on Earth, just behind the crater near Vredefort in South Africa. Unlike the South African crater, the Chicxulub has a peak ring intact. This tells the experts that the impact site has no single central peak. Scientists say that it is “ground zero of the Cretaceous extinction event.”
No Rush To Dig
Scientists haven’t really been rushing to study the crater since it has been sitting there for 66 million years. Over the years, the crater has been filled with water and rock. Today, over a half-mile of sedentary rock covers the crater.
Discovering the Crater
Even though the crater had been there for 66 million years, it wasn’t discovered until 1978. Two geophysicists, Glen Penfield and Antonio Camargo, stumbled upon the crater. They weren’t even looking for it. They stumbled upon it while searching for petroleum. The two men went up in a plane to compete for a magnetic survey that mapped any potential drilling locations beneath the Gulf of Mexico. They were going through the data collected when Glen noticed something strange. There was a 40-foot-wide underwater arc with amazing symmetry. When the men saw this, they decided to dig a bit deeper. This was when Glen and Antonio discovered that the two arcs made a circle.
Glen knew right away that they had found something amazing. He believed that he had pinpointed a cataclysmic event in the planet’s history. Glen and Antonio got permission from the Petroleos Mexicanos to present their findings at the 1981 Society of Exploration Geophysicists conference. Oddly, their revelation didn’t go over the way that they thought. Since their find didn’t garner too much attention, Glen decided to give up his research on the crater. He did publish the data that he collected, and other scientists have had similar findings over the years.
Alan R. Hildebrand and William V. Boynton
In 1981, a graduate student from the University of Arizona, Alan R. Hilderbrand, was working with his adviser, William V. Boynton, to publish their own Earth-impact theory. They needed a crater to collaborate their hypothesis, and they had plenty of evidence with the crater studied by Glen. They even learned more than Glen did.
An Ancient Volcano
Experts Drilled Into The Crater That Killed the Dinosaurs And Made An Incredible Discovery. Drilling took place at the crater site because it was believed that there was once an ancient volcano in the area, that was destroyed when the asteroid hit. When Glen and Antonio drilled at the site, they discovered proof of a volcanic eruption. While everyone has their own theories, there is one thing that everyone agrees with. The crater is responsible for killing all non-flying dinosaurs on the planet. After more drilling, experts discovered that the impact of the crater pushed sediment from miles beneath the surface up to the top. The rocks also gave the experts an idea of what the world looked like post-impact. The rocks made the experts believe that when the asteroid hit the earth, it created a hole, and a tsunami formed. Between the rock hurling in the air, the tsunami causing floods, and the heat from the initial impact, everything was gone.