Fr.: Cratère de Chicxulub
A crater about 200 km in diameter on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, near the town of Chicxulub, Mexico. It is attributed to a 10 km wide → asteroid that hit the Earth about 65 million years ago (→ Chicxulub impactor). Ten years before the 1990 discovery of the Chicxulub crater, physicist Luis Alvarez and geologist Walter Alvarez proposed a theory to explain the formation of the crater. They noted increased concentrations of the element → iridium in 65-million-year-old clay. Iridium is rare on Earth, but it's more common in some objects from space, like → meteors and asteroids. According to the Alvarez theory, a massive asteroid had hit the Earth, blanketing the world in iridium. The collision caused fires, climate change and widespread extinctions, among which that of dinosaurs, who had lived for 180 million years.
Named after a twon in the Mexican state of Yucatan, which lies near the geographic center of the → crater.