An emplacement mechanism for the mega-block zone within the Chicxulub crater, (Yucatán, Mexico) based on chemostratigraphy


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Abstract– To better constrain the emplacement mechanism of the so-called “mega-block zone,” a structurally complex unit of target rocks within the Chicxulub impact structure, the stratigraphic coherence of this zone is tested using its strontium isotopic composition. Forty-eight samples across the 616 m sequence of deformed Cretaceous rocks in the lower part of the Yaxcopoil-1 core, drilled by ICDP in 2002, were analyzed for their 87Sr/86Sr isotope ratio. The oceanic anoxic event 2 (OAE2 event), located near the base of the core forms the only stratigraphic anchor point. From this point upward to approximately 1050 m depth, the 87Sr/86Sr trend shows small oscillations, between approximately 0.7074 and 0.7073, characteristic of Cenomanian to Santonian values. This is followed by an increase to approximately 0.7075, similar to the one reported in the seawater strontium curve during the Campanian. Scattered Sr isotope ratios are attributed to local diagenetic effects, such as those expected from the possible presence of hot, impact-induced dikes and hydrothermal fluid flow, originating from the thick central melt sheet. The absence of Upper Maastrichtian Sr isotope values may result from the removal of upper target lithologies during the impact cratering process. Based on these results, the displaced Cretaceous sequence in Yax-1 appears to have preserved its stratigraphic coherence. During the modification stage, it probably moved as a whole into the annular basin during collapse of the crater wall, thereby breaking up into discrete units along previously weakened detachment zones. This model is consistent with the emplacement mechanism postulated by Kenkmann et al. (2004).