• Chicxulub central crater structure: Initial results from physical property measurements and combined velocity and gravity modeling

      Vermeesch, P. M.; Morgan, J. V. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      The Chicxulub crater in Mexico is a nearly pristine example of a large impact crater. Its slow burial has left the central impact basin intact, within which there is an apparently uneroded topographic peak ring. Its burial, however, means that we must rely on drill holes and geophysical data to interpret the crater form. Interpretations of crater structures using geophysical data are often guided by numerical modeling and observations at other large terrestrial craters. However, such endeavors are hindered by uncertainties in current numerical models and the lack of any obvious progressive change in structure with increasing crater size. For this reason, proposed structural models across Chicxulub remain divergent, particularly within the central crater region, where the deepest well is only ~1.6 km deep. The shape and precise location of the stratigraphic uplift are disputed. The spatial extent and distribution of the allogenic impact breccias and melt rocks remain unknown, as do the lithological nature of the peak ring and the mechanism for its formation. The objective of our research is to provide a well-constrained 3D structural and lithological model across the central region of the Chicxulub crater that is consistent with combined geophysical data sets and drill core samples. With this in mind, we present initial physical property measurements made on 18 core samples from the Yaxcopoil-1 (Yax-1) drill hole between 400 and 1500 m deep and present a new density model that is in agreement with both the 3D velocity and gravity data. Future collation of petrophysical and geochemical data from Yax-1 core, as well as further seismic surveys and drilling, will allow us to calibrate our geophysical models--assigning a suite of physical properties to each lithology. An accurate 3D model of Chicxulub is critical to our understanding of large craters and to the constraining of the environmental effects of this impact.
    • Evidence for ocean water invasion into the Chicxulub crater at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary

      Goto, K.; Tada, R.; Tajika, E.; Bralower, T. J.; Hasegawa, T.; Matsui, T. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      The possibility of ocean water invasion into the Chicxulub crater following the impact at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary was investigated based on examination of an impactite between approximately 794.63 and 894.94 m in the Yaxcopoil-1 (Yax-1) core. The presence of cross lamination in the uppermost part of the impactite suggests the influence of an ocean current at least during the sedimentation of this interval. Abundant occurrence of nannofossils of late Campanian to early Maastrichtian age in the matrices of samples from the upper part of the impactite suggests that the carbonate sediments deposited on the inner rim margin and outside the crater were eroded and transported into the crater most likely by ocean water that invaded the crater after its formation. The maximum grain size of limestone lithics and vesicular melt fragments, and grain and bulk chemical compositions show a cyclic variation in the upper part of the impactite. The upward fining grain size and the absence of erosional contact at the base of each cycle suggest that the sediments were derived from resuspension of units elsewhere in the crater, most likely by high energy currents association with ocean water invasion.
    • Hydrothermal alteration in the core of the Yaxcopoil-1 borehole, Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico

      Zürcher, L.; Kring, D. A. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      Petrographic, electron microprobe, and Raman spectrometric analyses of Yaxcopoil-1 core samples from the Chicxulub crater indicate that the impact generated a hydrothermal system. Relative textural and vein crosscutting relations and systematic distribution of alteration products reveal a progression of the hydrothermal event in space and time and provide constraints on the nature of the fluids. The earliest calcite, halite, and gaylussite suggest that the impactite sequence was initially permeated by a low temperature saline brine. Subsequent development of a higher temperature hydrothermal regime is indicated by thermal metamorphic diopside-hedenbergite (Aeg3Fs(18-33)En32 11Wo(47-53)) after primary augite and widespread Na-K for Ca metasomatic alkali exchange in plagioclase. Hydrothermal sphene, apatite, magnetite +/- (bornite), as well as early calcite (combined 3 to 8 vol%) were introduced with metasomatic feldspar. A lower temperature regime characterized by smectite after probable primary glass, secondary chlorite, and other pre-existing mafic minerals, as well as very abundant calcite veins and open-space fillings, extensively overprinted the early hydrothermal stage. The composition of early and late hydrothermal minerals show that the solution was chlorine-rich (Cl/F >10) and that its Fe/Mg ratio and oxidation state increased substantially (4 to 5 logO2 units) as temperature decreased through time. The most altered zone in the impactite sequence occurs 30 m above the impact melt.The lack of mineralogical zoning about the impact melt and convective modeling constraints suggest that this unit was too thin at Yaxcopoil-1 to provide the necessary heat to drive fluids and implies that the hydrothermal system resulted from the combined effects of a pre-existing saline brine and heat that traveled to the Yaxcopoil-1 site from adjacent areas where the melt sheet was thicker. Limonite after iron oxides is more common toward the top of the sequence and suggests that the impactite section was subjected to weathering before deposition of the Tertiary marine cover. In addition, scarce latest anatase stringers, chalcopyrite, and barite in vugs, francolite after apatite, and recrystallized halite are the likely products of limited post- ydrothermal ambient-temperature diagenesis, or ocean and/or meteoric water circulation.
    • Is the transition impact to post-impact rock complete? Some remarks based on XRF scanning, electron microprobe, and thin section analyses of the Yaxcopoil-1 core in the Chicxulub crater

      Smit, J.; Van Der Gaast, S.; Lustenhouwer, W. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      The transition from impact to post-impact rocks in the Yaxcopoil-1 (Yax-1) core is marked by a 2 cm-thick clay layer characterized by dissolution features. The clay overlies a 9 cm-thick hardground, overlying a 66 cm-thick crossbedded unit, consisting of dolomite sandstone alternating with thin micro-conglomerate layers with litho- and bioclasts and the altered remains of impact glass, now smectite. The micro-conglomerates mark erosion surfaces. Microprobe and backscatter SEM analysis of the dolomite rhombs show an early diagenetic, complex-zoned, idiomorphic overgrowth, with Mn-rich zones, possibly formed by hot fluids related to cooling melt sheet in the crater. The pore spaces are filled with several generations of coelestite, barite, K-feldpar, and sparry calcite. XRF core scanning analysis detected high Mn values in the crossbedded sediments but no anomalous enrichment of the siderophile elements Cr, Co, Fe, and Ni in the clay layer. Shocked quartz occurs in the crossbedded unit but is absent in the clay layer. The basal Paleocene marls are strongly dissolved and do not contain a basal Paleocene fauna. The presence of a hardground, the lack of siderophile elements, shocked quartz, or Ni-rich spinels in the clay layer, and the absence of basal Paleocene biozones P0 and Pa all suggest that the top of the ejecta sequence and a significant part of the lower Paleocene is missing. Due to the high energy sedimentation infill, a hiatus at the top of the impactite is not unexpected, but there is nothing in the biostratigraphy, geochemistry, and petrology of the Yax- 1 core that can be used to argue against the synchroneity of the end-Cretaceous mass-extinctions and the Chicxulub crater.
    • Stratigraphic and sedimentological observations from seismic data across the Chicxulub impact basin

      Bell, C.; Morgan, J. V.; Hampson, G. J.; Trudgill, B. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      Seismic data across the offshore half of the Chicxulub impact crater reveal a 145 kmdiameter post-impact basin to be a thickening of Tertiary sediment, which thickens by ~0.7 sec from the basin margin to the basin center. The basin existed long after the impact and was gradually infilled to its current flat surface. A suite of seismic horizons within the impact basin have been picked on four reflection lines across the crater. They reveal that the western and northwestern parts of the impact basin were filled first. Subsequently, there was a dramatic change in the depositional environment, indicated by an unconformable surface that can be mapped across the entire basin. A prograding shelf sequence downlaps onto this unconformity in the eastern basin. The seismic stratigraphic relationships suggest a marine regression, with sedimentation becoming gradually more passive as sediments fill the eastern part of the impact basin. The central and northeastern parts of the basin are filled last. The onshore hole Yaxcopoil-1 (Yax-1), which was drilled on the flanks of the southern basin, has been projected onto the offshore seismic data to the west of the crater center. Using dates obtained from this onshore well and regional data, approximate ages have been placed on the most significant horizons in the offshore seismic data. Our preliminary interpretation is that the western and northwestern basins were almost entirely filled by 40 Ma and that the marine regression observed in the eastern basin is early Miocene in age. Offshore seismic stratigraphic analyses and onshore data within Yax-1 suggest that the early Paleocene is highly attenuated across the impact basin. The Mesozoic section appears to be ~1 km thicker offshore than onshore. We calculate that, given this offshore thickening, the volume of Mesozoic rocks that have been excavated, melted, or vaporized during impact is around 15% larger than expected from calculations that assume the offshore thickness is equal to that onshore. This has significant consequences for any environmental calculations. The current offset between the K-T boundary outside and inside the crater is ~700 m. However, infilling of basins with sediments is usually accompanied by subsidence, and immediately following the impact, the difference would have been smaller. We calculate the original topographic offset on the K-T boundary to have been between 450 and 700 m, which is in agreement with depthdiameter scaling laws for a mixed target.