Seismic imaging and attribute analysis of Chicxulub Crater central sector, Yucatán Platform, Gulf of Mexico


  • I. CANALES-GARCÍA Posgrado en Ciéncias del Mar y limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, 04510 México, México
  • J. URRUTIA-FUCUGAUCHI Programa Universitario de Perforaciones en océanos y Continentes, Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad nacional Autónoma de México, Departamento de Geomagnetismo y Exploración Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, 04510 México, México.
  • E. AGUAYO-CAMARGO Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad nacional autónoma de México, Departamento de Geología. Ciudad Universitaria, Delegación Coyoacán, 04510 México, México



Chicxulub Crater, Structure, Stratigraphy, Seismic attributes, Yucatan Platform, Gulf of Mexico


Chicxulub Crater, formed ~66Ma ago by an asteroid impact on the southern Gulf of Mexico, is the best preserved of the three large multi-ring basins in the terrestrial record. The crater structure is characterized by a semi-circular concentric ring pattern, marking the crater basin, peak ring, terrace zone and basement uplift. Analysis of a grid of 19 seismic reflection profiles using seismic attributes, marker horizons, contour surfaces and 3-D views is used to investigate the stratigraphy of the central zone. We used interactive software and routine applications to map the impact breccias, breccia-carbonate contact and post-impact carbonates. Four horizons marked by high-amplitude reflectors representing high-impedance contrasts were identified and laterally correlated in the seismic  images. Complex trace attribute analysis was applied for petrophysical characterization. Surface contour maps of base and top of stratigraphic packages were constructed, which mapped the impactites and post- and pre-impact carbonate stratigraphy. Basin floor, marked by the contact between the impact breccias and overlying carbonates is shown by laterally discontinuous high-amplitude reflectors. Discontinuous scattered reflectors interpreted as the upper breccias beneath the crater floor, have an average thickness of ~300msm. The Paleogene sedimentary units are characterized by multiple reflectors with lateral continuity, which contrast with the seismic response of underlying breccias. The basal Paleocene sediments follow the basin floor relief. Upwards in the section, the carbonate strata are characterized by horizontal reflectors, which are interrupted by a regional unconformity. Onlap/downlap packages over the unconformity record a period of sea level change.


Alvarez, L.W., Alvarez, W., Asaro, F., Michel, H.V., 1980. Extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction. Science, 208, 1095-1108.

Barnes, A., 2006. Too many seismic attributes? CSEG Recorder, 31(3), 41-45.

Barton, P.J., Grieve, R.A.F., Morgan, J.V., Surendra, A.T., Vermeesch, P.M., Christeson, G.L., Gulick, S.P.S., Warner, M.R., 2010.

Seismic images of Chicxulub impact melt sheet and comparison with the Sudbury structure. Geological Society of America,

Special Paper, 465, 103-113. DOI: 10.1130/2010.2465(07)

Batista, J., Pérez-Flores, M.A., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2013. Threedimensional gravity modeling of Chicxulub Crater structure, constrained with marine seismic data and land boreholes. Earth Planets Space, 65, 973-983.

Bell, C., Morgan, J., Hampson, G.J., Trudgill, B., 2004. Stratigraphic and sedimentological observations from seismic data across the Chicxulub impact basin. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 39, 1089-1098.

Bird, D.E., Hall, S.A., Burke, K., Casey, J.F., 2005. Gulf of Mexico tectonic history: Hot spot tracks, crustal boundaries and early salt distribution. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, 89, 311-328.

Brittan, J., Morgan, J., Warner, M., Marin, L., 1999. Near-surface seismic expression of the Chicxulub impact crater. Geological Society of America, Special Paper, 339, 269-279.

Canales, I., 2013. Interpretación estructural y estratigráfica en perfiles sísmicos de reflexión del Cráter Chicxulub. Tesis

Maestria en Ciencias, Programa Posgrado Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 105pp.

Chopra, S., Marfurt, K.J., 2005. Seismic attributes – A historical perspective. Geophysics, 70, 3SO-28SO.

Chopra, S., Marfurt K.J., 2008. Emerging and future trends in seismic attributes. The Leading Edge, 298-318.

Christie-Blick, N., Driscoll, N.W., 1995. Sequence Stratigraphy. Annual Reviews Earth Planetary Sciences, 23, 451-78.

Collins, G.S., Morgan, J., Barton, P., Christeson, G.L., Gulick, S., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Warner, M., Wünnemann, M., 2008. Dynamic modeling suggests terrace zone asymmetry in the Chicxulub crater is caused by target heterogeneity. Earth and

Planetary Science Letters, 270, 221-230.

Connors M., Hildebrand, A.R., Pilkington, M., Ortiz-Aleman, C., Chavez, R.E., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Graniel-Castro, E., Camara-Zi, A., Vazquez, J., Halpenny, J.F., 1996. Yucatán karst features and the size of Chicxulub crater. Geophysical Journal International, 127, F11-F14.

Escobar-Sánchez, J.E., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2010. Chicxulub crater post-impact hydrothermal activity - evidence from Paleocene carbonates in the Santa Elena borehole. Geofisica Internacional, 49, 97-106.

French, C.D., Schenk, C.J., 2004. Map showing geology, oil and gas fields, and geologic provinces of the Caribbean region. U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 97-470-K. [CD-ROM]

Gulick, S., Barton, P., Christeson, G., Morgan, J., McDonald, M., Mendoza, K., Pearson, Z., Surendra, A., Urrutia-Fucugauchi,

J., Vermeesch, P., Warner, M., 2008. Importance of pre-impact crustal structure for the asymmetry of the Chicxulub impact

crater. Nature Geoscience, 1, 131-135. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo103

Gulick, S.P.S., Christeson, G.L., Barton, P.J., Grieve, R., Morgan, J., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2013. Geophysical characterization of the Chicxulub impact crater. Reviews of Geophysics, 51, 31-52. DOI: 10.1002/rog.20007

Hildebrand, A.R., Penfield, G.T., Kring, D.A., Pilkington, M., Camargo-Zanoguera, A., Jacobsen, S.B., Boynton, W.V., 1991.

Chicxulub Crater: A possible Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary impact crater on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Geology, 19,


Hildebrand, A.R., Pilkington, M., Ortiz-Aleman, C., Chavez, R.E., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Connors, M., Graniel-Castro, E., Niehaus, D., 1998. Mapping Chicxulub crater structure with gravity and seismic reflection data. In: Graddy, M.M., Hutchinson, R., McCall, G.J.H., Rotherby, D.A. (eds.). Meteorites: Flux With Time and Impact Effects. Geological Society of London, Special Publications, 140, 155-176.

Keppie, J.D., Dostal, J., Norman, M., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Grajales, M., 2011. Study of melt and a clast of 546Ma magmatic arc rocks in the 65Ma Chicxuub bolide breccia, northern Maya block, Mexico: Western limit of Ediacaran arc peripheral to northern Gondwana. Intternational Geology Review, 53, 1180-1193.

Kring, D.A., Horz, L., Zurcher, L., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2004. Impact lithologies and their emplacement in the Chicxulub impact crater: Initial results from the Chicxulub scientific drilling project, Yaxcopoil, Mexico. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 39, 879-897.

Liu, J., Marfurt, K.J., 2007. Instantaneous spectral attributes to detect channels. Geophysics, 72(2), P23-P31.

López Ramos, E., 1976. Geological summary of the Yucatán peninsula. In: Nairn, A.E.M., Stehli, F.G. (eds.). The Ocean Basins and Margins, Volume 3: The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, New York, Plenum, 257-282.

López Ramos, E., 1979. Geología de México. México: Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Tomo 3, 445pp.

Marton, G., Buffler, R.T., 1994. Jurassic reconstruction of the Gulf of Mexico basin. International Geology Reviews, 36, 545-586.

Mayr, S. I., Burkhardt, H., Popov, Y., Wittmann, A., 2007. Estimation of hydraulic permeability considering the micro morphology of rocks of the borehole Yaxcopoil-1 (Impact crater Chicxulub, Mexico). International Journal of Earth Science, 97, 385-399.

Melosh, H.J., 1989. Impact Cratering: A Geologic Process. New York, Oxford University Press, 245pp.

Molina-Garza, R., Van der Voo, R., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 1992. Paleomagnetism of the Chiapas massif, southern Mexico:

Evidence for rotation of the Maya block and implications for the opening of the Gulf of Mexico. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 104, 1156-1168.

Morgan, J.V., Warner, M., Chicxulub Working Group, Brittan, J., Buffler, R., Camargo, A., Christeson, G., Denton, P., Hildebrand, A., Hobbs, R., Macintyre, H., Mackenzie, G., Maguire, P., Marin, L., Nakamura, Y., Pilkington, M., Sharpton, V., Snyder, D., Suarez, G., Trejo, A., 1997. Size and morphology of the Chicxulub impact crater. Nature, 390, 472-476.

Morgan, J.V., Warner, M.R., Collins, G.S., Melosh, H.J., Christeson, G.L., 2000. Peak ring formation in large impact craters: Geophysical constraints from Chicxulub. Earth Planetary Science Letters, 183, 347-354.

Morgan, J.V., Warner, M., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Gulick, S., Christeson, G., Barton, P., Rebolledo-Vieyra, M., 2005. Chicxulub crater seismic survey prepares way for future drilling. EOS: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, 86, 325-332.

Morgan, J.V., Gulick, S.P.S., Bralower, T., Chenot, E., Chriteson, G., Claeys, P., 2016. The formation of peak rings in large impact craters, Science, 354, 6314, 878-882. DOI: 10.1126/science.aah6561

Ortiz-Aleman, C., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2010. Aeromagnetic anomaly modeling of central zone structure and magnetic sources in the Chicxulub crater. Physics Earth Planetary Interiors, 179, 127-138. DOI: 10.1016/j.pepi.2010.01.007

Paull, C.K., Caress, D.W., Gwiazda, R., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Rebolledo-Vieyra, M., Lundsten, E., Anderson, K., Sumner, E.J., 2014. Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary exposed: Campeche Escarpment, Gulf of Mexico. Marine Geology, 357, 392-400.

Penfield, G.T., Camargo-Zanoguera, A., 1981. Definition of a major igneous zone in the central Yucatán platform with aeromagnetics and gravity. In: Society of Exploration. Geophysicists Annual Meeting, Technical Program. Abstracts, 51st Annual Meeting, pg.: 37. [Abstract]

Pierazzo, E., Melosh, H.J., 2000. Understanding oblique impacts from experiments, observations, and modelling. Annual Review Earth Planetary Sciences, 28, 141-167.

Pilkington, M., Hildebrand, A.R., 2000. Three-dimensional magnetic imaging of the Chicxulub crater. Journal of Geophysical

Research, 105, 23479-23491.

Pilkington. M., Hildebrand, A.R., Ortiz-Aleman, C., 1994. Gravity and magnetic field modeling and structure of the Chicxulub

crater, Mexico. Journal of Geophysical Research, 99, 147-162.

Pindell, J.L., Dewey, J.F., 1982. Permo-Triassic reconstruction of western Pangea and the evolution of the Gulf of Mexico/ Caribbean region. Tectonics, 1, 179-211.

Popov, Y., Romushkevic, R., Bayuk, I., Korobkov, D., Mayr, S., 2004. Physical properties of rocks from the upper part of the

Yaxcopoil-1 drill hole, Chicxulub crater. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 39, 799-812.

Rebolledo-Vieyra, M., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2004. Magnetostratigraphy of the impact breccias and post-impact carbonates from borehole Yaxcopoil-1, Chicxulub impact crater, Yucatán, Mexico. Meteoritics Planetary Science, 39, 821-830.

Rebolledo-Vieyra, M., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Lopez-Loera, H., 2010. Aeromagnetic anomalies and structural model of the

Chicxulub impact crater, Yucatán, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geologicas, 27, 185-195.

Rosencrantz, E., 1990. Structure and tectonics of the Yucatán Basin, Caribbean Sea, as determined from seismic reflection studies. Tectonics, 9, 1037-1059.

Salguero-Hernández, E., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Ramírez-Cruz, L., 2010. Fracturing and deformation in the Chicxulub crater

- Complex trace analysis of instantaneous seismic attributes. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas, 27(1), 175-184.

Schulte, P., Alegret, L., Arenilla, I., Arz, J.A., Barton, P.J., Bown, P.R., Bralower, T.J., Christeson, G.L., Claeys, P., Cockell, C.S., Collins, G.S., Deutsch, A., Goldin, T.J., Goto, K., GrajalesNishimura, J.M., Grieve, R.A.F., Gulick, S.P.S., Johnson, K.R., Kiessling, W., Koeberl, C., Kring, D.A., MacLeod, K.G., Matsui, T., Melosh, J., Montanari, A., Morgan, J.V., Neal, C.R., Nichols, D.J., Norris, R.D., Pierazzo, E., Ravizza, R., RebolledoVieyra, M., Reimold, W.U., Robin, R., Salge, T., Speijer, R.P., Sweet, A.R., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Vajda, V., Whalen, M.T., Willumsen, P.S., 2010. The Chicxulub asteroid impact and mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Science, 327, 1214-1218.

Sharpton, V.L., Dalrymple, G.B., Marin, L.E., Ryder, G., Shuaraytz, B.C., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 1992. New links between the

Chicxulub impact structure and the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. Nature, 359, 819-821.

Sharpton, V.L., Burke, K., Camargo-Zanoguera, A., Hall, S.A., Lee, S., Marin, L.E., Suarez, G., Quezada, J.M., Spudis, P.D., UrrutiaFucugauchi, J., 1993. Chicxulub multiring impact basin: Size and other characteristics derived from gravity analysis. Science, 261, 1564-1567.

Snyder, D.B., Hobbs, R.W., 1999. Deep seismic reflection profiles across the Chicxulub Crater. In: Dressler, B.O., Sharpton,

V.L. (eds.), Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution. Geological Society of America, Special Paper, 339, 263-268.

Stöffler, D., Artemieva, N.A., Ivanov, B.A., Hecht, L., Kenkmann, T., Schmitt, R.F., Tagle, R.A., Wittmann, A., 2004. Origin and

emplacement of the impact formation at Chicxulub, Mexico as revealed by the ICDP deep drilling at Yaxcopoil-1 and by

numerical modeling. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 39, 1035-1067.

Taner, M.T., Koehler, F., Sheriff, R.E., 1979. Complex seismic trace analysis. Geophysics, 44(6), 1041-1063.

Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Pérez-Cruz, L., 2009. Multiringforming large bolide impacts and evolution of planetary surfaces. International Geology Review, 51, 1079-1102.

Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Pérez-Cruz, L., 2016. Chicxulub asteroid impact: An extreme event at the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary. American Geophysical Union Monograph, 214, 99-111.

Urrutia-Fucugauchi J., Marin, L., Trejo-Garcia, A., 1996. UNAM Scientific drilling program of Chicxulub impact structure: Evidence for a 300 kilometer crater diameter. Geophysical Research Letters, 23, 1565-1568.

Urrutia-Fucugauchi J., Soler-Arechalde A.M., RebolledoViera M., Vera-Sánchez P., 2004. Paleomagnetic and rock magnetic study of the Yaxcopoil-1 impact breccia sequence, Chicxulub impact crater (Mexico). Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 39, 843-856.

Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Chávez J.M., Pérez-Cruz L., de la Rosa J.L., 2008. Impact ejecta and carbonate sequence in the eastern sector of Chicxulub crater. Comptes Rendus Geosciences, 341, 801-810. DOI:10.1016/j.crte.2008.09.001

Urrutia-Fucugauchi J., Camargo-Zanoguera A., Pérez-Cruz L., Pérez-Cruz G., 2011. The Chicxulub multi-ring impact crater, Yucatán carbonate platform, Gulf of Mexico. Geofísica Internacional, 50, 99-127.

Vail, P.R., Audemard, F.E., Bowman, S.A., Eisner, P.N., PérezCruz, G., 1991. The stratigraphic signatures of tectonics, eustasy and sedimentology: An overview. In Einsele, G., Ricken, W., Seilacher, A. (eds.). Cycles and Events in Stratigraphy. Springer-Verlag, 617-659.

Vermeesch, P.M., Morgan, J.V., 2008. Structural uplift the Chicxulub impact structure. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, B7, B07103.

Vermeesch, P.M., Morgan, J.V., Christeson, G.L., Barton, P.J., Surendra, A., 2009. Three-dimensional joint inversion of travel and gravity data across the Chicxulub impact crater. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, BO2105.

Ward, W., Keller, G., Stinnisbeck, W., Adatte, T., 1995. Yucatán subsurface stratigraphy Implications and constraints for the Chicxulub impact. Geology, 23, 873-876.

Whalen, M., Gulick, S., Pearson, Z., Norris, R.D., Pérez-Cruz, L., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., 2014. Annealing the Chicxulub impact: Paleogene Yucatán carbonate slope development in the Chicxulub impact basin, Mexico. Society for Sedimentary Geology, Special Publication, 105, 282-304. DOI:10.2110/sepmsp.105.04

Wilson, J.L., 1975. Carbonate Facies in Geologic History. Heidelberg, Berlin, Springer-Verlag, New York, 471pp.






Short note