Chicxulub: Searching for Answers on Climate ChangeBy Fernanda Duque Hernández
USD $10 million to be invested in Deep-water exploration
After 21 years of hard work, a team of 30 scientists from Mexico, Japan, Germany, France, the United States, Canada and other countries will begin new research on the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico, in hopes that it will help them to understand what happened on the planet after an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago.
Chicxulub is a unique crater. It is 200 km in diameter and the scientific community believes that the impact that took place there was the cause of the extinction of 75% of living organisms at the time, including dinosaurs.
According to the plan, a boat-platform will be set up in the crater’s center – located 40km off the coast of Puerto Progreso, Yucatan – for the extraction of layer samples of the ground at the time of the collision. For this task, it will be necessary to drill 1.5 km deep into the ocean.
This platform will be a floating scientific laboratory that will host geochemical and petro physical laboratories as well as a description and nucleus preparation area.
The European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (Ecord) will invest around US $10 million in this endeavor, as confirmed by Jaime Urrutia, a geophysicist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and also head chief of the investigation team.
According to Sean Gulick, a researcher at the University of Texas, the Chicxulub Crater Scientific Drilling Project, has three main aspects to investigate: analyze the stages of the mass extinction event which took place 65 million years ago; document the process of the asteroid impact; and understand what kind of conditions enabled the restoration of the habitat.
Ligia Perez-Cruz, also a UNAM researcher, said that the importance of this investigation lies in understanding climate change. She added that, at that time, the Earth went through a process that was very similar to today’s global warming and to understand how the planet went through those changes would be an important tool for the scientific community.
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