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Drilling Into the Chicxulub Crater, Ground Zero of the Dinosaur Extinction

An artist’s impression of what the Chicxulub crater might have looked like soon after an asteroid struck the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Researchers studied the peak rings, or circular hills, inside the crater. Credit Detlev van Ravenswaay/Science Source
An artist’s impression of what the Chicxulub crater might have looked like soon after an asteroid struck the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Researchers studied the peak rings, or circular hills, inside the crater. Credit Detlev van Ravenswaay/Science Source

Some 66 million years ago an asteroid crashed into the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, triggering the extinction event that obliterated the dinosaurs and nearly extinguished all life on Earth. It struck with the same energy as 100 million atomic bombs, and left behind a 100-mile-wide scar known today as the Chicxulub crater.

Now, a team of geophysicists has drilled into the gigantic cavity under the Gulf of Mexico, targeting a circular series of hills called a peak ring located at its center. What they discovered illustrates that powerful impacts can catapult materials buried deep in a planet’s crust much closer to its surface.

The New York Times, Nov.17, 2016

Nature, Nov. 17, 2016

International Business Times, Nov. 17, 2016

Ars Technica, Nov. 17, 2016

New Scientist, Nov. 17, 2016

The Daily Mail, Nov. 17, 2016

Cosmos, Nov. 17, 2016

UPI, Nov. 17, 2016

BBC News, Nov. 18, 2016

Huffington Post UK, Nov. 18, 2016

Eos, Nov. 17, 2016

Astronomy Magazine, Nov. 17, 2016

FOX News, Nov. 18, 2016

The Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 18, 2016

KUT, Nov.28, 2016

Featuring: Sean Gulick, research professor, the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences