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Crater drilling declared major success

Following three months of around-the-clock work, the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater Deep Drilling Project successfully completed its operations, extracting more than a mile-long segment of rocks and sediments from the Earth. On Dec. 4, the drill bit reached a final depth of 5,795 ft (1.1 miles, 1.77 kilometers) within the structure of the crater.

The impact crater was formed about 35 million years ago when a rock from space struck the Earth at hypersonic speed. Scientists have only recently begun to explore the consequences from that distant event and learn how it has greatly affected the population living in southeastern Virginia today.

"The drilling project was a major success," said Greg Gohn, a U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist in Reston, Va. "We recovered a nearly complete set of core samples from the top of the crater fill to the crater floor." USGS and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) are the project's sponsors.

Gohn is a co-principal investigator of the drilling project, along with Christian Koeberl of the University of Vienna in Austria, Kenneth Miller of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and Uwe Reimold, at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

"This is one of the most complete cores ever obtained in an impact structure," said Koeberl, "and will allow us to understand a shallow-marine impact event at an unprecedented level."

The team successfully recovered the complete succession of post-impact sediments above the crater, the entire sequence of rocks broken up during the impact, and rocks from the crater floor. These samples will allow the project's international science teams to research the post-impact environment, impact-related processes, and the impact process itself. In addition, the team completed geophysical down-hole logging to collect additional data, such as the temperature gradient within the corehole.

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Contact: Gregory Gohn
ggohn@usgs.gov
703-648-4382
United States Geological Survey
12-Jan-2006


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