Chicxulb Impact Crater

February 26, 2001


Provided by: NASA
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

It was reported last week that evidence has been found supporting the theory that a comet or asteroid impact wiped out most of the world's creatures about 250 million years ago. The object responsible for this is thought to be about the size of the hunk of rock that likely did in the dinosaurs at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary, approximately 65 millions years ago. Shown above is a 3-dimensional map of the local gravity and magnetic field variations for the Chicxulb Crater, off of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. The blue semicircle is the impact site. The Chicxulb Crater has a diameter of about 170 km, and it's suspected of being the impact site that resulted in the demise of half of Earth's species, including the dinosaurs, some 65 million years ago. For perhaps 6 months following the impact, darkness prevailed across the Earth, due to the tremendous amount of dust, sulfur, ash, and other materials that were lifted into our atmosphere. A prolonged period of freezing temperatures combined with the shutting down of photosynthetic processes caused mass extinctions 65 million years ago and probably 250 million years ago as well.

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