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Chicxulub Crater in Mexico


Area of the Deccan Traps labeled over India

A Gravity Map of the Chicxulub Crater


The Chicxulub crater is a crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Though the crater is the largest confirmed impact crater on Earth it has since been completely buried. The animation on the right overlays the current land mass of theYucatán Peninsula over a gravity map of the impact crater. You can see that half of the crater is under land while the other half is in the Gulf of Mexico. The crater is 180km (110mi) in diameter but the meteoroid that created is thought to have been about 10km (6m) in diameter though some recent studies suggest that it may have been smaller.

The impact event that created this crater is accepted as the trigger of the mass extinctions of the dinosaurs (non-avian dinosaurs). If it was solely responsible for the extinction is still debated. In 1994 comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 broke up into many pieces due to gravitational forces acting on it as it approached Jupiter. On July 16, 1994, the first piece impacted Jupiter and over the next 6 days 21 different impacts were observed. Some researchers suggest that a similar event may have occurred here on Earth and while the Chicxulub crater is the largest of the impacts there may have been more but smaller impacts on Earth. As well in the same time frame of the extinction event the Deccan Traps started erupting perhaps due to the multiple impacts or for totally separate reasons. The Deccan Traps recently have begun to be considered at least another factor in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

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Black and white map of Mexico with Chicxulub Crater labeled. Color map of India with Deccan Traps labeled

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