The University of Arizona

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



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.


impact crater;numerical modeling;Yaxcopoil-1;Chicxulub

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