Current Research in EEPS: Sean P. S. Gulick, University of Texas at Austin
Life and Death by Impact: Drilling for Clues
The most recent of Earth’s five largest mass extinction events occurred 66 Ma, coeval with the impact of a ~12 km asteroid, striking at ~60 degrees into what is today the Yucatán Peninsula, México, producing the ~200 km-wide Chicxulub crater. This impact, by some estimations, drove the extinction of 75% of life on Earth at the genus level including all non-avian dinosaurs. Proposed kill mechanisms include thermal effects caused by the reentry of fast ejecta into Earth’s atmosphere, dust and sulfate aerosols reducing Earth’s solar insolation, ocean acidification, and metal toxicity due to the chemical make-up of the impactor. In 2016, 835 m of core was recovered from the Chicxulub impact structure through IODP-ICDP Expedition 364. Analyses done on these cores, downhole logs, and geophysical site survey data have led to a series of advancements to our understanding of impact cratering processes and to how the Chicxulub impact affected the Earth’s environment leading to the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction.
Event will be hosted as a webinar.