65 million years ago, the Cretaceous Period came to an end and the beginning of the Tertiary period featured a tragedy that put an end to an entire era. A 10km-diameter asteroid, travelling with a speed of 250,000 km per hour, hit the Yucatan Peninsula. For dinosaurs the devastating change marked the end of their world and extraordinary new forms of life emerged on our planet. Meanwhile, at the very base of the Earth, some drastic changes took place –the enormous impact crater began to fill with water, this water seeped into the underground, eroding limestone and carving large caverns on its way. This process went on for millions and millions of years creating for us the marvellous underground scenery at Xplor.
In 1980, some archaeologists discovered that geological remains taken from all over the World, contained a substantial concentration of iridium, a mineral that is prominent in asteroids and comets. This gave rise to the theory that an asteroid was the prime cause for the dinosaur’s extinction.
In calculating the quantity of iridium present on the Earth’s crust and in comparing it with the minimum quantity contained in an asteroid, it all came down to one conclusion – a meteorite of about 10 km in diameter had impacted planet Earth.
These archaeologists could later conclude that the Chicxulub Crater, of about 180km in diameter, located on the coast of Yucatan, was the centre of the impact. Consequentially, a giant wave of tsunamis hit the area, leaving marine fossils that can still be found on the peninsula today.
The crater, which formed a basin of fresh water infiltrating inside the aquifer, started to dissolve the limestone on various strata and the changes in sea water levels gave an even bigger boost to the whole process.
As a result, the fresh water remained trapped underground without the chance of completely mixing with sea water. The effects this natural process had on the limestone was key for the formation of cenotes and caves that are still very characteristic of Yuacatan today. Little by little, millennium after millennium, rain water trapped inside the basins of Xplor dissolved the surrounding walls leaving substantially large openings inside the stone.
Consequentially, the combination of two processes ⎯lower water levels and the infiltration of rain water⎯ continues to form stalagmites and stalactites inside caves. It was nature itself that created these caves, even before the first proof of human life, and it is this same process that continues to shape Xplor’s underground scnenery.