Researchers to drill below the Chicxulub Crater off the Yucatecan Coast

A team of scientists, led by experts of the University of Texas at Austin, will drill off the coast of Yucatan, Mexico to take core samples from the crater of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

“The goal of the expedition is to recover a cross section of earth from the center of the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.” said Sean Gulick, a researcher at The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics (UTIG). 

The rock samples obtained from the expedition will be used to further the study of the evolution of life on earth as well as the formation process of impact craters, Gulick said. 

“The Chicxulub crater is the only impact crater linked to a mass extinction event – therefore, it is an incredible opportunity to study how life recovered after the mass extinction,” Gulick said.  


“The sediments that filled in the crater should have the record for organisms living on the sea floor and in the water that were there for the first recovery after the mass extinction event,” Gulick said. “The hope is we can watch life come back.” 


After the core is extracted, it will be sent to Germany, where the column will be cut in two halves. The first of these will be examined right away by research groups from several nations, including the United States, Mexico and The United Kingdom. The remainder of the sample will be housed at a core repository at Texas A&M University for future research. 


The expedition will last for two months and involve penetrating nearly 5,000 feet beneath the seabed from an offshore platform.  

The US$10 million in funding for the expedition has been approved and scheduled by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP).