Yucatán karst features and the size of Chicxulub crater

Martin Connors, Alan R. Hildebrand, Mark Pilkington, Carlos Ortiz-Aleman, Rene E. Chavez, Jaime Urrutia-Fucugauchi, Eduardo Graniel-Castro, Alfredo Camara-Zi, Juan Vasquez, John F. Halpenny

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The buried Chicxulub impact structure is marked by a dramatic ring of sinkholes (called cenotes if containing water), and adjacent less prominent partial rings, which have been shown to coincide with maxima in horizontal gravity gradients and a topographic depression. These observations, along with the discreteness and spacing of the features, suggest a formation mechanism involving faulting in the outer slump zone of the crater, which would thus have a diameter of approximately 180 km. An opposing view, based primarily on the interpretation of gravity data, is that the crater is much larger than the cenote ring implies. Given the association of the known cenote ring with faults, we here examine northern Yucatán for similar rings in gravity, surface features and elevation, which we might expect to be associated with outer concentric faults in the case of a larger, possibly multiring, structure. No such outer rings have been found, although definite patterns are seen in the distribution of karst features outside the crater rim. We explain these patterns as resulting mainly from deformation related to the block fault zone that parallels the shelf edge of eastern Yucatán.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F11-F14
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Chicxulub
  • Gravity anomalies
  • Impact crater
  • KT boundary
  • Karst geomorphology


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