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      The Chicxulub ejecta deposit at Demerara Rise (western Atlantic): Dissecting the geochemical anomaly using laser ablation-mass spectrometry

      , , ,
      Geology
      Geological Society of America

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          The Chicxulub asteroid impact and mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary.

          The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary approximately 65.5 million years ago marks one of the three largest mass extinctions in the past 500 million years. The extinction event coincided with a large asteroid impact at Chicxulub, Mexico, and occurred within the time of Deccan flood basalt volcanism in India. Here, we synthesize records of the global stratigraphy across this boundary to assess the proposed causes of the mass extinction. Notably, a single ejecta-rich deposit compositionally linked to the Chicxulub impact is globally distributed at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. The temporal match between the ejecta layer and the onset of the extinctions and the agreement of ecological patterns in the fossil record with modeled environmental perturbations (for example, darkness and cooling) lead us to conclude that the Chicxulub impact triggered the mass extinction.
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            Extraterrestrial cause for the cretaceous-tertiary extinction.

            Platinum metals are depleted in the earth's crust relative to their cosmic abundance; concentrations of these elements in deep-sea sediments may thus indicate influxes of extraterrestrial material. Deep-sea limestones exposed in Italy, Denmark, and New Zealand show iridium increases of about 30, 160, and 20 times, respectively, above the background level at precisely the time of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinctions, 65 million years ago. Reasons are given to indicate that this iridium is of extraterrestrial origin, but did not come from a nearby supernova. A hypothesis is suggested which accounts for the extinctions and the iridium observations. Impact of a large earth-crossing asteroid would inject about 60 times the object's mass into the atmosphere as pulverized rock; a fraction of this dust would stay in the stratosphere for several years and be distributed worldwide. The resulting darkness would suppress photosynthesis, and the expected biological consequences match quite closely the extinctions observed in the paleontological record. One prediction of this hypothesis has been verified: the chemical composition of the boundary clay, which is thought to come from the stratospheric dust, is markedly different from that of clay mixed with the Cretaceous and Tertiary limestones, which are chemically similar to each other. Four different independent estimates of the diameter of the asteroid give values that lie in the range 10 +/- 4 kilometers.
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              THE GLOBAL STRATIGRAPHY OF THE CRETACEOUS-TERTIARY BOUNDARY IMPACT EJECTA

              J. Smit (1999)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Geology
                Geology
                Geological Society of America
                0091-7613
                1943-2682
                February 15 2011
                March 01 2011
                February 03 2011
                March 01 2011
                : 39
                : 3
                : 279-282
                Article
                10.1130/G31599.1
                1163224e-a8da-4f81-a904-8d5155b13506
                © 2011
                History

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