Department of Geosciences - Geology, Geophysics and Geography

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CNSM & GI geoscientist Michael Whalen was part of study that suggest Asteroid impacts create habitats for life 

Around 65 million years ago, a massive asteroid crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. The impact and subsequent effects wiped out about 75 percent of all life on Earth, including most of the dinosaurs. Scientists studying the resulting Chicxulub crater are learning how large asteroid impacts deform rocks in a way that may produce habitat advantageous to early life forms.

Researchers, including Michael Whalen of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, have completed the first analyses of the core samples and found that the peak ring rocks were more porous and less dense than models had previously predicted. Their findings were published today in the journal Science. In April and May 2016, an international team of scientists undertook an offshore expedition to drill into part of the crater’s rocky inner ridges, called the peak ring. By extracting core samples from about 1,700 to 4,400 feet below the modern-day sea floor, they hope to learn more about the ancient cataclysmic event. Read more.

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