• Origin and emplacement of the impact formations of Chicxulub, Mexico, as revealed by the ICDP deep drilling at Yaxcopoil-1 and by numerical modeling

      Stöffler, D.; Artemieva, N. A.; Ivanov, B. A.; Hecht, L.; Kenkmann, T. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      We present and interpret results of petrographic, mineralogical, and chemical analyses of the 1511 m deep ICDP Yaxcopoil-1 (Yax-1) drill core, with special emphasis on the impactite units. Using numerical model calculations of the formation, excavation, and dynamic modification of the Chicxulub crater, constrained by laboratory data, a model of the origin and emplacement of the impact formations of Yax-1 and of the impact structure as a whole is derived. The lower part of Yax-1 is formed by displaced Cretaceous target rocks (610 m thick), while the upper part comprises six suevite-type allochthonous breccia units (100 m thick). From the texture and composition of these lithological units and from numerical model calculations, we were able to link the seven distinct impact-induced units of Yax-1 to the corresponding successive phases of the crater formation and modification, which are as follows: 1) transient cavity formation including displacement and deposition of Cretaceous megablocks; 2) ground surging and mixing of impact melt and lithic clasts at the base of the ejecta curtain and deposition of the lower suevite right after the formation of the transient cavity; 3) deposition of a thin veneer of melt on top of the lower suevite and lateral transport and brecciation of this melt toward the end of the collapse of the transient cavity (brecciated impact melt rock); 4) collapse of the ejecta plume and deposition of fall-back material from the lower part of the ejecta plume to form the middle suevite near the end of the dynamic crater modification; 5) continued collapse of the ejecta plume and deposition of the upper suevite; 6) late phase of the collapse and deposition of the lower sorted suevite after interaction with the inward flowing atmosphere; 7) final phase of fall-back from the highest part of the ejecta plume and settling of melt and solid particles through the reestablished atmosphere to form the upper sorted suevite; and 8) return of the ocean into the crater after some time and minor reworking of the uppermost suevite under aquatic conditions. Our results are compatible with: a) 180 km and 100 km for the diameters of the final crater and the transient cavity of Chicxulub, respectively, as previously proposed by several authors, and b) the interpretation of Chicxulub as a peak-ring impact basin that is at the transition to a multi-ring basin.