The crater, made by the asteroid that killed of dinosaurs millions of years ago, is giving clues to the origin of Life which began on Earth. Scientists have buried into the 200km long crated, buried under the Gulf of Mexico, and have found some remarkable discoveries.
They say that the rocks show evidence of having been home of a large “hydrothermal system”, which is where hot fluid flowed through cracks. Similar impacts could have helped kickstart the first lifeforms on Earth. This hydrothermal system at the Chicxulub crater could have been active for two million years or more.
829m of Chicxulub core material was drilled between May and June of last year, with team members been hard at work examining the rocks from the crater which was punched in the crust by a 15 km wide space objects 66 million years ago. The drillers targeted an area called the peak ring, containing rocks that moved the greatest distance in the impact.
The direction of the Earth’s magnetic field flips every few hundred thousand years, and when the event occurred, it had reverse the polarity to today. The whole system may have been too hot for even the most heat tolerant microorganisms to cope with, however as time went on, the peak ring must have cooled to allow any lifeforms to exploit the chemicals that were dissolved in the fluids for fuel.
When they got cool enough, they supported thermophilic and hyperthermophilic organisms which would have lived within the fractures and the veins of this subsurface crater. The asteroid impact killed of 75% of the species on Earth at the time, including all dinosaurs. Debris thrown into the atmosphere probably saw skies darken and the global climate to decrease dramatically. It may have also triggered raging wildfires, burning down trees, increasing the carbon dioxide percentage in the atmosphere.
However, the question that is puzzling scientists is: How did this environmental cataclysms kill off some groups such as dinosaurs, but allowed birds and mammals to survive? The question still remains unclear, however further discoveries can be made with the mission still ongoing and rocks still being examined. Once the study comes to an end, more answers should spring to light.