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Geofísica internacional

versión impresa ISSN 0016-7169


URRUTIA-FUCUGAUCHI, Jaime; CAMARGO-ZANOGUERA, Antonio; PEREZ-CRUZ, Ligia  y  PEREZ-CRUZ, Guillermo. The Chicxulub multi-ring impact crater, Yucatan carbonate platform, Gulf of Mexico. Geofís. Intl [online]. 2011, vol.50, n.1, pp.99-127. ISSN 0016-7169.

The Chicxulub impact crater is part of a select group of unique geological sites, being a natural laboratory to investigate crater formation processes and global effects of large-scale impacts. Chicxulub is one of only three multi-ring craters documented in the terrestrial record and impact has been related to the global environmental/climatic effects and mass extinction that mark the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary. The crater is buried under ~1.0 km of carbonate sediments in the Yucatan peninsula. The buried structure was initially identified from geophysical surveys of the PEMEX oil exploration program in southeastern Mexico. On the surface its influence is marked by the circular ring of cenotes that have formed from differential compaction and fracturing between the impact breccias and surrounding limestone sequences. The crater is about ~200 km in rim diameter, half on-land and half off-shore with geometric center at Chicxulub Puerto, making it possible to use land, marine and aerial geophysical methods. The Yucatan carbonate platform is an ideal place to have the crater, tectonically stable with no volcanic activity, having formed by slow deposition of carbonate sediments. These characteristics permit high resolution imagery of the crater underground structure with unprecedented detail. The impact and crater formation occur instantaneously, with excavation of the crust down to ~25 km depths in fractions of a second and lower crust uplift and crater formation in the next few hundred seconds. Energy release results in intense fracturing and deformation at the target site, generating seismic waves traveling the whole Earth. Understanding the physics of impacts on planetary surfaces and modeling of crustal deformation and rheological behavior of materials at high temperatures and pressures remain major challenges in geosciences. The K/Pg ejecta layer is the only global stratigraphic marker in the geological record, allowing correlation of events worldwide. In the last 20 years much has been learned about the Chicxulub crater and the K/Pg boundary; however what is perhaps most interesting are the questions remaining, which include fundamental aspects of Chicxulub impact and its environmental effects.

Palabras llave : Chicxulub crater; Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary; cratering; geophysical exploration methods; drilling; Yucatan platform; Gulf of Mexico.

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