31 Chicxulub Crater Facts: This Will Blow Your Mind!

Shagun Dhanuka
Jan 26, 2023 By Shagun Dhanuka
Originally Published on Dec 22, 2021
astronomical origin of the chicxulub crater

Chicxulub is the third biggest confirmed impact crater, with a diameter of more than 110 mi (177 km).

The Chicxulub crater is an enormous crater. It is located partially on the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula and partly underwater.

The crater is named after the settlements of Chicxulub Pueblo as well as Chicxulub Puerto, which are located near the crater's core. It was created when a larger asteroid with a diameter of roughly 6.2 mi (10 km) collided with the Earth.

The massive Chicxulub crater is a remnant bowl-shaped structure of one of the most significant days in the history of life on Earth.

Continue reading this article for more information and fun facts about the Chicxulub crater and its history.

Geology Of The Chicxulub Crater

Hildebrand, Penfield, and colleagues described the geology and composition of the crater in a report published in 1991.

  • The rocks above the impact feature are layers of marl and limestone rocks that extend over 3,300 ft (1,005.8 m) in depth.
  • These rocks are only from the Paleocene epoch, roughly 56-66 million years ago, and were thus deposited after the impact.
  • More than 1640.4 ft (500 m) of andesite glass and breccia lie beneath these layers. The crater includes shocked quartz as well as andesitic igneous rocks and was only discovered within the purported impact feature.
  • Inside the feature, the K–Pg boundary is depressed to a depth of 2,000-3,600 ft (609.6-1097.2 m), compared to a normal depth of around 1,640.4 ft (500 m) recorded 3.1 mi (5 km) away from the impact feature.
  • The Chicxulub asteroid impact structure dates from the end of the Cretaceous period, around 66 million years ago, according to the age of the rocks and isotope studies.
  • The impact theory connected with the crater is thought to have been the cause of dinosaur extinction in the surrounding areas.
  • The crater includes shocked quartz, a gravity anomaly, and tektites in the surrounding areas, all pointing to the crater being formed by an impact.
  • Antonio Camargo and Glen Penfield, geophysicists searching for petroleum in the Yucatán Peninsula in the late 70s, discovered the crater.
  • Penfield stopped his search after initially being unable to find proof that the geological feature was a crater.
  • Penfield later got samples from Alan Hildebrand in 1990, indicating that it had an impact's concentric features.
  • Fish and tree fossils have been discovered in North Dakota after being sprayed by stony, glassy fragments that dropped from the sky.
  • The deposits also exhibit signs of being flooded as a result of a colossal sea surge caused by the crater's impact.


mass extinction of the chicxulub crater

Morphology Of The Chicxulub Crater

Clusters of cenotes or water-filled sinkholes may be found along the crater's border, indicating that there was a water basin inside the feature during the Neogene period after the impact.

  • The limestone rocks would have been dissolved by the water-filled sinkholes of such a basin, resulting in caverns and cenotes beneath the surface.
  • The crater appeared to be a potential candidate source for the tektites discovered in Haiti, according to the Hildebrand research.
  • Researchers have also said that it is likely that a colossal sea surge caused the impact.


Astronomical Origin Of The Chicxulub Crater

Based on available evidence that is geochemical, the impact origin is thought to have been carbonaceous chondritic leftovers from the solar system.

  • A small-sized meteorite was described in 1998 from sediments spanning the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary in the North Pacific, and it was thought to be a component of the Chicxulub impactor.
  • Research published in 'Nature' in September 2007 postulated a genesis for a larger asteroid that produced the Chicxulub crater.
  • The enormous amount of carbonaceous material found in microscopic shards of the impactor supports the link between Chicxulub and Baptistina, implying that the impactor was a member of the rare class of asteroids known as carbonaceous chondrites, like Baptistina.
  • The date of the collision that gave rise to the Baptistina family was revised to around 80 million years ago in 2011 because of new data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. This renders an asteroid from this family exceedingly unlikely to have formed the Chicxulub crater, given that the process of asteroid resonance and impact generally has to have been ten million years ago.
  • In February 2021, available evidence from four independent laboratories revealed high iridium concentrations in the crater's peak ring, bolstering the asteroid impact hypothesis.
  • Based on numerical models, research published in July 2021 concluded that the impact origin was in the outer major section of the asteroid belt.

Mass Extinction Of The Chicxulub Crater

The Chicxulub crater supports the notion proposed by late physicist Luis Alvarez and his son, geologist Walter Alvarez, that a bolide impact caused the extinction of multiple plant and animal species, including non-avian dinosaurs.

  • The Chicxulub impact structure dates from around 66 million years ago, during the end of the Cretaceous period and the beginning of the Paleogene period, based on the age of the rocks marked by the impact.
  • The crater's impact is thus linked to the Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinctions, which included the demise of non-avian dinosaurs all over the world.
  • The Chicxulub impact structure sparked research on the mass extinctions at the K–Pg boundary, including that of dinosaurs, according to forty-one specialists from several nations who evaluated 20 years of evidence in March 2010.
  • A thin layer of clay found at the K–Pg boundary around the planet that possessed an exceptionally high proportion of iridium is the main evidence of such an impact, aside from the crater itself.
  • The iridium was thought to have been distributed into the atmosphere as the impactor melted and fell to the Earth's surface with other debris thrown up by the impact, resulting in a layer of iridium-enriched clay.
  • The exact process of the site's destruction has been contested as an impact-caused tsunami or lake and river seiche activity generated by post-impact earthquakes; academics have yet to come to a definite conclusion.
  • Some doubters, such as paleontologist Robert Bakker, dispute that such a collision would have eliminated both frogs and dinosaurs, but frogs endured the extinction event while dinosaurs did not. Radioactive dating and sedimentology contradict this result.
  • The asteroid strike precipitated the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, mass extinction.
  • Scientists can now explain how the asteroid that took out the dinosaurs created its massive crater in great detail.
  • Drilling into the remnant bowl and analyzing its rocks allowed for the reconstruction of the 66 million-year-old event.

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Written by Shagun Dhanuka

Bachelor of Business Administration

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Shagun DhanukaBachelor of Business Administration

With a Degree in Business Administration, Shagun is an avid writer with a passion for food, fashion, and travel, which she explores on her blog. Her love of literature has led her to become a member of a literary society, where she contributes to promoting literary festivals in her role as head of marketing for her college. Shagun also pursues learning the Spanish language in her free time.

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