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The crater of the asteroid that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs provides a safe haven for microbes

The Chicxulub impact crater is one of the most famous geological features in the West of the Earth. It is located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and has a diameter of 180 km. Scientists assume that it was caused by an asteroid collision with Earth; Which led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The crater is the subject of many scientific research and studies, the most recent of which was a study published in the journal Astrobiology on October 30th, which provided evidence that the crater hosts a massive network of geothermal vents that provide a safe haven for microbial life and a suitable habitat for evolution. Early for life there.

A tale of isotopes of sulfur

The study by David Kering and his team was based on the Lunar and Plaanetary Institute in Houston, Texas, USA; To the analysis of about 15,000 kilograms of rock extracted from a crater 1.3 kilometers deep in the ring of the Chicksulub crater.

And the researchers found – according to the press release of the study and published on the institute’s website – small balls of pyrite called framboids, with a diameter of only 10 millionth of a meter in the studied samples. Since pyrite is iron sulfide, it contains sulfur isotopes.

These isotopes showed the presence of microbes as part of an ecosystem adapted to hot, mineral-laden fluids, which flow through the thermal water network from beneath those gigantic craters resulting from the massive collision between the planet Earth and cosmic particles.

The Chicxulub crater was caused by an asteroid collision that scientists assume led to the extinction of the dinosaurs (David Fox – University of Arizona – Wikipedia)

The origin of life hypothesis

Of course, life needs energy to survive, and this microbial life gets its energy from chemical reactions between the rock-fluid system, where it converts sulfates in the liquid into sulfide, which is then preserved as pyrite.

The researchers believe that these ancient thermophilic microbes are very similar to those microbes that inhabit the harsh environments on the present earth, such as deep hydrothermal vents and hot springs in Yellowstone Park.

The researchers believe that sulfur-reducing organisms lasted 2.5 million years after the Great Collision, and that the organisms under the Chicksulub crater now are most likely direct descendants of those previous organisms.

This study comes as a summary of about 20 years of continuous research and study of the origin of the impact of the life hypothesis. Dr. Kring began earlier, in 1992, a study linking the Chicxulub crater to the mass extinction.

The researchers found in the rock samples small balls of pyrite that contain isotopes of sulfur (Didier Descoins – Wikipedia)

Cring also participated in research that showed that the area under the Chicksulub crater was porous, strong evidence of microbial life there. Whereas, colonies of thermophilic organisms, which reduce sulphates, were living in the porous rocks under the crater floor and feeding on the sulphates transported through the rock through a hydrothermal system.

There is still more work to be done to confirm the influence of the origin of the microbial life hypothesis. Scientists argue that there is also a need to better understand the energy available to the microorganisms in the granitic crust, which was present during the Stone Age. The researchers believe that if sedimentary and fossil samples can be located, they will provide a direct record of the early development of life on Earth.

Source : Australian Press + websites




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