Yucatán subsurface stratigraphy: Implications and constraints for the Chicxulub impact

TitleYucatán subsurface stratigraphy: Implications and constraints for the Chicxulub impact
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsWard, WC, Keller, G, Stinnesbeck, W, Adatte, T

Much of the discussion about the effects of an end-of-Cretaceous impact by a large extraterrestrial body in northwestern Yucatán has been done in the context of limited and partly erroneous published data on the Mesozoic stratigraphy of that area. Reexamination of cores and geophysical logs taken in several Pemex wells has produced improved lithologic and biostratigraphic correlation of the Jurassic to Maastrichtian section across the northern Yucatán peninsula. These data suggest that major disturbance of strata by an impact would have been confined to within about 100 km of the proposed impact center near Chicxulub. The only unusual lithologic unit is polymict breccia, which apparently was penetrated at or near the top of the Cretaceous section in all the deep wells of northern Yucatán. This breccia in Pemex wells Yucatán 1, 2, 4, 5A, and 6 is composed predominantly of detrital dolomite, limestone, and anhydrite clasts set in dolomitized carbonate mud matrix, which contains upper Maastrichtian foraminifers. These constituents, mixed with fragments of altered glass or melt rock, shocked quartz and feldspar, and basement rock, suggest an impact as the most likely origin for the breccia. The timing of brecciation is poorly constrained by biostratigraphic data. There is some evidence, however, that the breccia unit is overlain by about 18 m of uppermost Maastrichtian marls, suggesting an impact before the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. In addition, there may have been more than one episode of breccia deposition.  PDF