(3) GEOLOGISTS WEARY, BUT ELATED BY CHICXULUB DRILLING OPERATIONS
>From Ron Baalke
>From Lori Stiles, UA News Services, 520-621-1877
February 20, 2002
The drilling crew on the Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project near Merida,
Yucatan, Mexico, has been doing "a fantastic job," last week recovering
between 35 and 40 meters of exceptional core samples each day, according to
a University of Arizona scientist and co-investigator on the project.
The Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project (CSDP) is an international project
to core 1.8-kilometers into an immense crater created by the impact of an
asteroid or comet 65 million years ago. The Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T) impact
is thought to have led to one of the greatest mass extinctions in Earth
history, including dinosaur extinction.
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) is the lead institution on
the $1.5 million, approximately 2-month project. The goal is to discover
what the impactor was and the details of the catastrophic impact that wiped
out more than 75 percent of all plant and animal species on Earth.
"The crew is drilling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at a far faster pace
that we ever thought possible," said UA planetary scientist David A. Kring.
"We had hoped to recover as much as 25 meters of core samples each day, but
at the rate they are drilling, we will probably reach depths of 1.5
kilometers by the end of the project, despite the loss of a diamond drill
head earlier in this effort."
The CSDP drilling team members are from DOSECC (Drilling, Observation, and
Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust, Inc.), and Pitsa, a drilling
contractor in Mexico.
"We are getting a 100 percent core-recovery rate," Kring added. Scientists
by such drilling operations often recover only between 50 percent or 60
percent, and sometimes as little as 20 percent, of intact core samples, he
The drilling crew hands each core barrel pulled from the crater to onsite
geologists who then remove and process the core samples.
Kring and UA undergraduate student Jake Bailey last week helped relieve
their tired Mexican colleagues in onsite geology duties, working 12-hour
shifts. Kring worked a 28-hour stretch as well.
When Kring left Chicxulub last Saturday night, the team had drilled to more
than 1.2 kilometers (4,200 feet).
Kring, director of the NASA/UA Space Imagery Center, has posted photographs
and more details on recent operations on the Space Imagery Center website at
For more about the Chicxulub Scientific Drilling Project, point your web
David A. Kring