A giant undersea cliff holds important clues about the asteroid that collided with Earth more than 65 million years ago to form the Chicxulub crater,which is found in Mexico’s Yucatan State,reports NBC News. This ancient cosmic event is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs within as little as 33,000 years,according to new evidence.
“We’ve shown the impact and the mass extinction coincided as much as one can possibly demonstrate with existing dating techniques,” researcher Paul Renne of the Berkeley Geochronology Center in California told LiveScience. “The impact was clearly the final straw that pushed Earth past the tipping point.”
The newly explored underwater cliff stretches more than 370 miles along what is formally termed the Campeche Escarpment,which lies just across the Yucatan Peninsula from the vacation hotspot of Cancun,not far from the town of Campeche,for which the submerged cliff is named. At this time,researchers have only been able to remove impact deposits by drilling holes on land,since the crater’s center actually lies deep beneath the peninsula itself,close to the town of Chicxulub. However,new maps indicate that layers of the nearby Campeche Escarpment may contain exposed sediment and rock that contains deposits made before during and after the impact.
Some details contained within these layers of deposits are visible on new maps created using multi-beam sonars during an expedition held in March of 2013 by a team of scientists with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in conjunction with the Schmidt Ocean Institute. The new maps are available for public view on Google Earth and will be used in further studies. Researchers hope to collect samples from the Campeche Escarpment in the near future using underwater robots or manned submarines.
“Only a couple of decades ago,the idea of performing large-scale geological surveys thousands of meters below the ocean surface would have seemed a distant fantasy,” writes MBARI in an online report. “The newly created maps of the Campeche Escarpment could open a new chapter in research about one of the largest extinction events in Earth’s history.”
The global scientific community has recognized Mexico for its rich history of paleontology and archaeology for many years,but the most recent findings about the Chicxulub Crater and Campeche Escarpment will solidify the Yucatan Peninsula’s status as one of the most important locales in the world.
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