Chicxulub impact: ejecta production, transport, deposition and effects on the global environment.
The Chicxulub meteorite impact in Mexico was one of the most catastrophic events in the history of life on Earth. This impact happened ~66 million years ago and caused a rapid global climate change and the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction, marking the end of the reign of the (non-avian) dinosaurs. Nearly 40 years of K-Pg research has led to the hypothesis that shock-vaporization of the target rock played a key role in the environmental stress after the impact. However, major questions remain unanswered about the amount and types of products that were injected into the atmosphere, their transport and worldwide deposition, and their climatic and biotic effects.
This project is motivated by the recent discovery of two exceptional K-Pg ejecta sites ~3000 km north and south of the Chicxulub crater. In contrast to previous studied ejecta sites, these localities yield uniquely preserved glassy impact spherules. Studying their microtexture and chemical and isotopic compositions, provide additional clues about the contribution of the target lithologies and the meteorite itself. Comparing these sites with proximal and distal ejecta data and new results from Chicxulub drill core material recently obtained by the IODP-ICDP Exp. 364 project (including suevite and impact melt rock material) enables establishing a new model of impact plume dynamics and will result in better estimates of the released climate-active gases. This is imperative to understand how the energy release by the impact was transferred to the Earth System and led to the mass extinction.
The impactite material from the IODP-ICDP Exp. 364 drill core was extracted from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact crater, c. 30 km northwest of Progreso in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, proximal and more distal K-Pg ejecta sites are being sampled and examined in this project, focusing on localities in North, Middle and South America. This includes a series of classical terrestrial K-Pg localities in the Western Interior of USA and Canada, but also new sites such as Tanis (North Dakota, USA) and on Gorgonilla Island (Colombia).
Chicxulub, impact ejecta, suevite, petrography, µXRF, SEM-EDS, LA-ICP-MS, INAA, Synchrotron-XRF