Scientists Prepare to Drill into the Impact that Killed the Dinosaurs

A drilling platform will rise later this month in the Gulf of Mexico in an attempt to sink a diamond-tipped bit into the heart of the Chicxulub crater. This crater is the buried remnant of the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This crater is the only with an intact peak ring to explore. Link

They believe that by retrieving rock core, they may be able to understand how life came back in the wake of this cataclysm. Additionally, they hope to figure out if the crater itself could have been a home for microbial life.

The project clocks in at about $10 million dollars. They plan to begin drilling by April 1st. The project will last about two months and they will be on the look out, with each meter, for changes in rock types and microfossils. They'll also be collecting DNA samples throughout the project.

There is also a theory that the peak rings themselves may contain life, as there were fractures that were filled with liquids after the crash. Charles Cockell, an astrobiologist for the IODP team says, "Those will be preferred spots for microbes to grow, but it depends whether the fractures have energy and nutrients".

What's most interesting is this possible life, the descendants of those that thrived after the impact, derive their energy from iron and sulfur instead of carbon and oxygen.


The photo above was taken by Flickr User David Kryzaniak and is licensed under creative commons.