Paolo Sanchez

Microtektites of Gorgonilla Island, Colombia: Insights into the Cretaceous-Palaeogene Mass Extinction

The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction, 66 million years ago, is considered a major landmark in Earth’s history with the demise of many prehistoric taxa and development of modern species. Famously known for the extinction of the dinosaurs, this event is linked to a high-energy meteor impact on the coast of Chicxulub, Mexico. However, the actual extent to which the impact influenced global changes remains obscure due to the vaporization of the meteor upon impact and satisfactory preservation of the K-Pg rock record. Thus, studies have analyzed microtektites, tiny bedrock-derived droplets of glass produced by the high-energy impact, to better infer impact dynamics and chemical signatures associated with the extinction. Even so, these studies are limited to North and Central America, with geochemical readings of the samples largely obscured by post-depositional weathering. My project aims to investigate microtektites from a newly discovered, largely unaltered deposit in Gorgonilla Island, Colombia, utilizing electron microprobe and x-ray mapping data to clarify underlying geochemistry and potentially tracing back key compounds that might have played a role in the mass extinction.

Message to Sponsor

Being granted this exciting opportunity, I hope to further utilize the skills and knowledge acquired through this program as I continue my path to becoming a doctoral geoscience researcher. This program will not only give me vital research experience for my career, but will also open up new opportunities in the future. Thank you, Rose Hills Foundation and SURF program, for supporting me in this project!
  • Major: Geology, Geophysics
  • Sponsor: Rose Hill Foundation
  • Mentor: Paul Renne