Virginia

Layers of Answers at Langley

Layers of Answers at Langley

Located near the outer rim of the crater on the York-James Peninsula, the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is considered one of the official Chesapeake Bay impact crater research sites. In 1999, four scientific agencies put together a five-year plan to study the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater and, in 2000, the Department of the Interior dug a hole in NASA’s backyard. The USGS began taking core samples in July 2000 from a drill site that was planned to go 2,700 feet deep. Dr. Joel S. Levine, Senior Research Scientist at Langley’s Atmospheric Sciences said, “The USGS drilling project at Langley will permit a detailed investigation of a very significant event in the history of our planet that affected all four components of the Earth system – atmosphere, ocean, land and biosphere.” It’s important to understand the crater’s effect on the Earth as a whole.” He also said he was looking forward to the shared science and agency cooperation between everyone researching at Langley. Thanks to the efforts of a multitude of scientists working together, the layers in various core samples obtained from the drill site at Langley have proven to be extremely enlightening. Poag, Powars and many other scientists realize that by continuing to drill holes down into the crater, they will gain more understanding of how to maintain and manage the Chesapeake Bay area for future generations.

Since completing the core drilling at NASA Langley, the USGS drilled two  additional core sites in the outer parts of the crater, at North and Bayside, Virginia.  This made eight core holes in total to penetrate the crater. At Bayside, drillers reached deep enough to sample the granitic rocks, which underlie all the sedimentary beds.  These granite rocks had not been affected by the impact. Finally, in 2005, with funding support by the USGS, the National Science Foundation, and the International Continental Drilling Program, a ninth core hole was drilled 1,766 meters (5,792 ft) into the deep inner basin of the crater. This core hole, drilled at Eyreville, on the Delmarva Peninsula, revealed a 373 m (1,223 ft) section at the bottom of the hole filled with shocked and melted rocks definitive of a large bolide impact.  More than 40 teams of researchers from all over the world are analyzing core samples from this site.  The results will be published probably in 2009.