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Scientists to drill into Chicxulub crater

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Graphic: Expedición 364
Graphic: Expedición 364

Progreso, Yucatán — About 30 scientists from around the world — representing Mexico, England, Spain, Germany, the United States, Holland and Japan — will gather here in March for a new study of the so-called Chicxulub Crater in the Gulf of Mexico.

The catastrophic asteroid crash, blamed for the demise of the dinosaurs, left a sprawling crater made 65.5 million years ago. Discovered by Pemex geologists in 1978, the crater may hold the answers to many mysteries about pre-historic times. The crash released as much energy as 100 trillion tons of TNT, and more scientists have come to agree on a theory linking the incident with the eventual end of the dinosaurs’ reign.

Now, scientists plan to drill 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface of the crater to bring up a giant core — and delve 10 million to 15 million years into the past. The endeavor would result in the first offshore core taken from near the center of the crater.

Studies will be conducted on board a vessel similar to an oil rig, which will drill a well 1.5 kilometers on the ocean floor, about 30 kilometers off the coast of Sisal.

The goal to remove sediments and rocks beneath the ground to provide more information for a scientific study conducted by Dave McAroy, Claire Millef, David Smith of the ECORD Science Operator; Dennis Wilson, Bob Marshall, and Mario Rebolledo Vieyra, of the Scientific Research Center of Yucatán.

The study, called the Expedition 364 Chicxulub Impact Crater, will not require the use of explosives or towing equipment which in the past had impacted fisheries operating in the area.

The investigation should be completed within 60 days, and cost 20 million pesos, funded by a consortium of scientific agencies.

Scientists hope to learn more about the structure of the crater, and what it consists of; how long it took life to recover after impact; and learn the planet’s temperature after the crater crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

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