Lunar and Planetary Institute

LPI Science Featured in GSA Today

October 3, 2017

About the cover: The Chicxulub peak ring as sampled in a section of 83-mm-diameter core is composed of granitic rocks crosscut with cataclastic and hydrothermal veins and has also been shock-metamorphosed as illustrated with planar deformation features with ~5 micron spacing in quartz (inset, with field of view 245 microns wide). Credit: © The Geological Society of America, Inc.


Sixty-five million years ago, the evolution of Earth was dramatically altered when a large asteroid hit the Yucatán region of Mexico. The catastrophic events that followed caused mass extinctions, including the demise of the dinosaurs, which led to the rise of mammals and evolution of mankind.  The Chicxulub impact crater, named after the town which lies above its center, was targeted by the International Ocean Discovery Program and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (IODP-ICDP) Expedition 364 to test models of peak-ring formation, impact-generated hydrothermal systems, habitability within those systems, and the recovery of life in the vicinity of the crater. The Chicxulub crater is the only well-preserved peak-ring crater on Earth and is buried several hundred meters below the surface and is an essential target for study.

The expedition’s first year results are discussed in an article in GSA Today. For the first time; geologists, including the Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Senior Staff Scientist David Kring, drilled into the peak ring of Chicxulub crater and recovered nearly fourteen tons of rock from the depths of the crater, which are being studied to assess the depth of origin of the peak ring rock types and determine how they were deformed during the crater-forming event. That information is needed to effectively test how peak-ring craters form on planetary bodies.

The Chicxulub impact event, the environmental calamity it produced, and the paleobiological consequences are among the most captivating topics being discussed in the geologic community.

For more information, visit:

Chicxulub and the Exploration of Large Peak-Ring Impact Craters through Scientific Drilling in GSA Today, Volume 27, Number 10 (October 2017)

Chicxulub Impact Event


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