Scientists to Drill into Asteroid Impact in Mexico where Dinosaur-Destroying Asteroid Crashed

Sunday, March 20, 2016 - 17:06

Scientists are preparing to drill into the massive Chicxulub impact crater off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where an asteroid six miles (9.6km) wide crashed into Earth 66m years ago.

According to Engadget, by April 1st, scientist will start drilling into the Gulf’s Chicxulub crater in order to study how life recovered following the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period. It is believed that the crater is the impact site for an asteroid which may have destroyed half of all life on the planet, including the dinosaurs.

Researchers have long been held at bay by the oil industry but now that they can proceed. However, scientists face enormous obstacles in obtaining core samples from the crater buried under 800m of sediment that has settled over millions of years, reports Vice.

A group led by a team of scientists from the University of Texas, the National University of Mexico and the International Ocean Discovery Program is bankrolling a two-month, $10m (£7m) expedition to drill deep into the crater's "peak ring," which encircles the asteroid's impact site.

Scientists will search for DNA samples, microfossils, and rock type changes. They hope to locate signs of the peak ring, or the inner lip of the crater.

Scientists believe that the Chicxulub impact was incredibly powerful and it may have been a billion times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It unleashed earthquakes and tsunamis and covered the planet with a thick blanket of dust and sediment that blocked out much of the sunlight.

Understanding what happened during the Chicxulub impact can help researchers predict what may happen in the future if another massive asteroid collides with the planet.

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