Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid struck Earth, resulting in a massive environmental disaster and killing many species including the dinosaurs. With great force, the impact of the asteroid left the planet with a huge scar, the Chicxulub Crater.
Scientists will drill into the crater to better understand how this asteroid killed the dinosaurs.
A project conducted by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) sent a joint expedition to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico to drill into the Chicxulub Crater, which was created by the impact of the asteroid hitting Earth.
The expedition team used a "liftboat" named Myrtle serving as the drilling platform. The team will open the hole and set a casing of 500 meters (1,640 feet) and start drilling down at a target depth of 1,500 meters (4,921 feet), said Dave Smith of the British Geological Survey.
By drilling into the crater, the scientists working on the project can access evidence buried beneath the crater.
The vital parts of the crater are buried 600 meters (1,969 feet) beneath ocean sediment. These include the "peak ring," a particular feature that the scientists are interested in.
According to geophysical surveys, the true peak ring resembles an arcing chain of mountains 800 meters (2,625 feet) beneath the ocean floor.
"We want to know where the rocks that make up this peak ring come from," said Joanna Morgan from Imperial College London, one of the lead investigators of the project.
"Are they from the lower, mid or upper crust? Knowing that will help us understand how large craters are formed, and that's important for us to be able to say what was the total impact energy, and what was the total volume of rock that was excavated and put into the Earth's stratosphere to cause the environmental damage," Morgan added.
The information derived from the drilling project could also give hints if there are some species that survived the catastrophe, and if the impact resulted in geochemical processes that sustained life in the crater.
Rocks excavated from the drilling project could be a source of ancient DNA samples that can be a key in deriving answers to how the dinosaurs really vanished.
The expedition team aims to finish the project by June.