The crater made by the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs is revealing clues to the origins of life on Earth.
(From BBC / By Paul Rincon) — Scientists have drilled into the 200km-wide Chicxulub crater now buried under the Gulf of Mexico.
They say its rocks show evidence of having been home to a large “hydrothermal system”, where hot fluids flowed through cracks and fissures.
Similar systems, generated by impacts on the early Earth, could have helped kickstart the first lifeforms.
The hydrothermal system at Chicxulub may have been active for two million years or more, the scientists say.
Dr David Kring, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, is one of the researchers who discovered and reported the crater’s location.
“The impact generated a very large subsurface hydrothermal system,” he told BBC News.
“That’s exciting because we are using Chicxulub as a proxy for other, large impact events very early in Earth’s history when we think these kinds of systems might have been crucibles for pre-biotic chemistry and the habitats for the evolution of the earliest life on our planet.”
About 829m of Chicxulub core material was drilled between May and June 2016. Since then, team-members have been hard at work examining rocks from the crater which was punched in the crust by a 15km-wide space object some 66 million years ago.
The drilling project targeted an area called the peak ring, which contains the rocks that moved the greatest distance in the impact.
At a briefing here at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in Texas, Prof Sonia Tikoo, who studies palaeomagnetism, said the cores had given scientists a lower bound for how long this hydrothermal system lasted.
Read the full article here: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39361007