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Chicxulub Project Report from the Yucatan

Chicxulub Project Report

English Translation of Yucatan Article


This month Mission 364 began research work at the Chicxulub Crater site. Scientists in charge of the project are encouraging and say they already are seeing interesting results.

The evidence found in the layers of earth found 32 kilometers from the sea port of Progreso confirms the prehistoric stage of the event.  To successfully complete the project, the team had to reach the layer of the meteorite impact under the Gulf of Mexico.  Experts expect to obtain samples of microbial life that reveal data on the recovery of life after the crash of the celestial body which is believed to have caused the extinction of 76% of life in the Cretaceous period.

So far the project has resulted in 100 cores of sediment and rock fragments with an approximate age of 66 million years, which corroborate the geological timeframe of the phenomenon being studied.  The evidence being collected will allow researchers, after an exhaustive analysis in German laboratories, to determine whether or not microorganisms were able to survive in the area covered by the impact area.

Background


In 1952, Pemex began drilling the first well in the subsoil called “Chicxulub 1”. That drilling confirmed that there was no oil in that region of Yucatan, but some anomalies were discovered in the lower strata. Geophysical studies later determined the existence of a crater in the area.

Decades later and after further studies, on Saturday [May] 14, a team of researchers tackled the Myrtle drilling platform to begin drilling in the earth’s crust in the area of ​​impact.  The first rock samples were found at a depth of 500 meters, the final goal is 1,500 meters.

To understand the work being done on the platform, reporters from Grupa Megamedia set sail aboard the ship “Linda F.” and came to the place called Chicxulub Crater. There, a group of scientists led by Drs. Jaime Urrutia Fucugauchi and Ligia Pérez-Cruz, the Institute of Geophysics of the UNAM and other specialists from six countries explained the progress of the investigation, how they obtained the samples, and how the core analysis will be studied to confirm their theories.

“The expectations we had at the beginning of the project are being met, as we have drilled almost 750 meters and the first part corresponding to the stage of Paleogene, where some microfossils were found, which could imply the analysis was done in the preliminary strata,” explains Dr.. Ligia Perez-Cruz.

After a brief tour on the platform to better understand the laboratories and the methods used to extract samples, Dr. Sean Gulick of the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Texas, and Dr. Joanna Morgan of Imperial College in London, said that after drilling, underground sensors are introduced to collect data and determine the type of material found at that depth. The rocks are then removed and passed to an initial laboratory where they are cleaned and are subsequently analyzed by microbiologists on board. Later, the rocks are taken to another laboratory for microbiological analysis.

Original Spanish article by Rodrigo Garcia Aranda.