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Chicxulub Crater

The Chicxulub crater is a crater of approximately 111.847 miles in diameter located in the northwest section of the Yucatan Peninsula originated by a meteorite at least 6.2 miles in diameter that impacts Earth approximately 65.5 million years ago, at the end of the Mesozoic .

There have been postulated several theories about the origin of the asteroid that caused the Chicxulub crater, the most recognized is that it came from the asteroid belt that exists in our solar system between Mars and Jupiter. It is assumed that the asteroid Baptistina suffered in the past a collision that fragmented it into multiple asteroids of different sizes forming what was called the Baptistine Family. There are doubts about when the impact on the asteroid belt occurred, an estimate is that it was 80 million years ago, on the other hand the fragment of asteroid that arrived on Earth was 65 million years ago, which makes a difference in the time of 15 million years, assuming that the impact on the belt had removed the asteroid from its orbit and it would have gone to Earth.

It was also postulated that the aforementioned Baptistina asteroid was fragmented when approaching the Earth due to its gravitational effect, as happened to Comet Shoemaker-Levi-9 in 1994 before impacting on Jupiter. Several craters have been observed in the Earth of small size between the latitudes of 20º and 70º North, this postulate presents many objections.

It is estimated that the force of the impact of the asteroid that originated the Crater Chicxulub was about 50 megatons, the release of such amount of energy in a timely manner had an effect on the Earth globally. The sequence of impact events the asteroid that originated the Crater Chicxulub is represented below including the successive erosion of 65.5 million years.

The consequences of the impact were catastrophic since it caused severe climate changes that affected life on Earth by eliminating around 75% of the existing biodiversity. It is considered that this is the fourth mass extinction of life on Earth that occurred up to that moment.

The impact would have originated a megatsunami that would go around the Earth several times, earthquakes of great magnitude and propitiated volcanic eruptions in different parts. Also it would have thrown to the atmosphere melted fragments of the terrestrial crust and the asteroid, generating fires and an immense cloud of dust, ashes and steam of water that is estimated to maintain in the atmosphere for a time approximately of 10 years.

With the impact, enormous amounts of CO2 would be released, which, together with the dust, would cause a drop in global temperature, interruption of sunlight on the Earth and consequently, interruption of the photosynthetic process in the trophic chain. The extinction of 75% of the biodiversity included among the most notable dinosaurs along with both terrestrial and marine species. Among the survivors include crocodiles, some mammal species and among the ferns and some flowering plants. The extinction of so many species opened opportunities for mammals, among which were those that gave rise to primates and these to humans.


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