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Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and the Extinction of Dinosaurs

February 18, 2016
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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Dr. Jaime Urrutia-­Fucugauchi
Instituto de Geofisica, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico

Professor & President, Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (AMC)
Programa Universitario de Perforaciones en Oceanos y Continentes


Crater-forming impacts represent a class of extreme events involving high energy release and short time scales. Impacts constitute major geologic processes shaping the surfaces and evolution of planetary bodies. Formation of large craters involves high pressures and temperatures resulting in intense deformation, fracturing and melting. Impacts produce deep transient cavities, with excavation to deep levels in the crust, fragmentation, and removal of large volumes of rock. In this presentation, we analyze the Chicxulub impact and its effects on the Earth´s climate, environment and life-support systems, in relation to the Cretaceous/ Paleogene boundary. The boundary represents one of the major extinction events in the Phanerozoic, which affected about 75 % of species. Effects of the impact have been intensely investigated, where the affectation in the evolution patterns was profound and long-lasting. There are several aspects involved in addressing the Chicxulub impact as an extreme event: First we examine the impact event and cratering, time scales involved and energy released. Next, we assess the impact´s regional and global effects, which involve major perturbations in the ocean and atmosphere. From here, we discuss how and to what extent life-support systems are affected by large impacts, and what the fossil record tells about the extinction event and biotic turnover.


Jaime Urrutia-Fucugauchi is a Professor of Geophysics, National University of Mexico (UNAM) Institute of Geophysics, Mexico City. Ph.D. School of Physics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 1980. Major interest areas include paleomagnetism, stratigraphy, paleogeography, gravity and crustal structure, tectonics and paleoclimates. In the last years, interest has been focused on the Chicxulub impact crater, the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary mass extinction paleoceanography and paleoclimates. President of the Mexican Academy of Sciences 2014-2017, Member of El Colegio Nacional and Governing Board UNAM National University of Mexico. President Mexican Physics Society 2013-2015. Director Institute of Geophysics UNAM 1997-2005. President National Committees International Lithosphere Program and International Year of Planet Earth, Chairman AGU Latin- American RAC 1991-1994, Chair 2007 & 2013 Joint Assembly, AGU International Secretary 2006-2010, Member Governing Board American Institute of Physics 2007-2013.


Dr. Zenon Medina-Cetina: @SGLtamu or zenon@tamu.edu


February 18, 2016
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


O&M Building, Room 112