Following an earlier drilling expedition, scientists have analyzed the first core samples leading to clues how early life developed.
An international team of researchers following an offshore drilling expedition of the Chicxulub impact crater have conducted the first analysis of core samples, which may partly explain how life began.
The Chicxulub impact was a monolith crater that crashed into Earth 65 million years ago into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s recognized as the cataclysmic event that wiped out the dinosaurs and 75 percent of all life on Earth at the time.
The offshore drilling took place in April and May of 2016. Scientists from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering intended to gather rock samples from the crater’s inner ridges classified as the ‘peak ring’ and had to drill 506 to 1335 meters below today’s sea floor. The core samples revealed the crash altered the geology of the peak rings making them more porous and less dense.
Professor Joanna Morgan, lead author of the study, said: “It is hard to believe that the same forces that destroyed the dinosaurs may have also played a part, much earlier on in Earth’s history, in providing the first refuges for early life on the planet. We are hoping that further analyses of the core samples will provide more insights into how life can exist in these subterranean environments.”
These porous rocks allow for a fertile environment for basic organisms to mature. These pockets are rich in nutrients because of circulating water that was heated within the Earth’s crust. During this epoch, a fuselage of asteroids constantly smashed into Earth, which could have also led to other similar rock formations.
The analysis also substantiated how peak rings formed and they took shape on other planets. The force was so titanic that it shoved rocks already ten kilometers underground deeper and further out. The rocks then settled inward again near the impact site before tumbling downwards and outwards once more leading to the peak rings. The rocks moved nearly 30 kilometers in just a few minutes.
The study was originally published in the journal Science.