I just did some research on the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, which is the crater from the asteroid responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Yucatán itself does have several noteworthy caves like Loltun Cave and the Calcehtok Caves, but their size pales in comparison to Mammoth Cave in the United States.

Does the shape of the asteroid affect the damage it causes to the planet's crust? If the meteor was oblong would it open up more of the crust?

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    $\begingroup$ Impact causes many cracks. Cracks with water in them either become clogged, or crevasses, or, yes, caves. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Feb 28, 2021 at 19:23

1 Answer 1


From the wikipedia page on the Chicxulub crater

Along the edge of the crater are clusters of cenotes or sinkholes,[43] which suggest that there was a water basin inside the feature during the Neogene period, after the impact. The groundwater of such a basin would have dissolved the limestone and created the caves and cenotes beneath the surface.

Considering that the impact site is going to be messed up quite a bit by the impact itself, more than the shape of the impactor I think it is important to have the right composition of the ground: caves, cenotes included, form because water dissolves limestone. Considering that limestone deposits after the impact (whatever is there before will be morphed by the impact heat and pressure).

For the shape of the impactor, considering that the Earth crust ranges in thickness between 5-10 km for oceanic crust to 30-50 km for continental crust, I don't see that big difference, because once the crust is removed and the mantle exposed the consequences are pretty much the same (Chicxulub crater reached 30 km of depth).

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    $\begingroup$ To put some numbers into this answer, the impact occurred around 65 million years ago, and the Neogene started about 25 million years ago, so there's a 40 million year gap between the two. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Feb 28, 2021 at 11:41

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