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Geologists Weary, But Elated by Chicxulub Drilling Operations
Tucson - Feb 25, 2002
The drilling crew on the Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, has been doing "a fantastic job," last week recovering between 35 and 40 meters of exceptional core samples each day, according to a University of Arizona scientist and co-investigator on the project.
The Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project (CSDP) is an international project to core 1.8-kilometers into an immense crater created by the impact of an asteroid or comet 65 million years ago. The Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) impact is thought to have led to one of the greatest mass extinctions in Earth history, including dinosaur extinction.
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) is the lead institution on the $1.5 million, approximately 2-month project. The goal is to discover what the impactor was and the details of the catastrophic impact that wiped out more than 75 percent of all plant and animal species on Earth.
The CSDP drilling team members are from DOSECC (Drilling, Observation, and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust, Inc.), and Pitsa, a drilling contractor in Mexico.
"We are getting a 100 percent core-recovery rate," Kring added. Scientists by such drilling operations often recover only between 50 percent or 60 percent, and sometimes as little as 20 percent, of intact core samples, he said.
The drilling crew hands each core barrel pulled from the crater to onsite geologists who then remove and process the core samples.
Kring and UA undergraduate student Jake Bailey last week helped relieve their tired Mexican colleagues in onsite geology duties, working 12-hour shifts. Kring worked a 28-hour stretch as well.
When Kring left Chicxulub last Saturday night, the team had drilled to more than 1.2 kilometers (4,200 feet).
Kring, director of the NASA/UA Space Imagery Center, has posted photographs and more details on recent operations on the Space Imagery Center website at
Impact Events and Their Effect on Life - Paper by David A. Kring
Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project
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The K-T Impact Extinctions: Dust Didn't Do It
Boulder (GSA) Jan 23, 2002
Scientists basically agree that an asteroid struck the Earth some 65 million years ago and its impact created the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico. More controversial is the link between this impact and a major mass extinction of species that happened at the geological (K-T) boundary marked by the impact.
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