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      Bottom-Water Conditions in a Marine Basin after the Cretaceous–Paleogene Impact Event: Timing the Recovery of Oxygen Levels and Productivity

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          An ultra-high-resolution analysis of major and trace element contents from the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary interval in the Caravaca section, southeast Spain, reveals a quick recovery of depositional conditions after the impact event. Enrichment/depletion profiles of redox sensitive elements indicate significant geochemical anomalies just within the boundary ejecta layer, supporting an instantaneous recovery –some 10 2 years– of pre-impact conditions in terms of oxygenation. Geochemical redox proxies point to oxygen levels comparable to those at the end of the Cretaceous shortly after impact, which is further evidenced by the contemporary macrobenthic colonization of opportunistic tracemakers. Recovery of the oxygen conditions was therefore several orders shorter than traditional proposals (10 4–10 5 years), suggesting a probable rapid recovery of deep-sea ecosystems at bottom and in intermediate waters.

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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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            Time scales of critical events around the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary.

            Mass extinctions manifest in Earth's geologic record were turning points in biotic evolution. We present (40)Ar/(39)Ar data that establish synchrony between the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and associated mass extinctions with the Chicxulub bolide impact to within 32,000 years. Perturbation of the atmospheric carbon cycle at the boundary likely lasted less than 5000 years, exhibiting a recovery time scale two to three orders of magnitude shorter than that of the major ocean basins. Low-diversity mammalian fauna in the western Williston Basin persisted for as little as 20,000 years after the impact. The Chicxulub impact likely triggered a state shift of ecosystems already under near-critical stress.
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              Isotopic evidence for the Cretaceous-Tertiary impactor and its type.

              High-precision mass spectrometric analysis of chromium in sediment samples from the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary coincident with the extinction of numerous organisms on Earth confirms the cosmic origin of the K-T phenomenon. The isotopic composition of chromium in K-T boundary samples from Stevns Klint, Denmark, and Caravaca, Spain, is different from that of Earth and indicates its extraterrestrial source. The chromium isotopic signature is consistent with a carbonaceous chondrite-type impactor. The observed differences in the chromium isotopic composition among various meteorite classes can serve as a diagnostic tool for deciphering the nature of impactors that have collided with Earth during its history.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                13 December 2013
                : 8
                : 12
                [1 ]Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad de Granada, Armilla, Granada, Spain
                [2 ]Departamento de Estratigrafía y Paleontología, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain
                University of Florence, Italy
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: CSM FMR FJRT. Performed the experiments: CSM. Analyzed the data: CSM FMR FJRT. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: CSM FMR FJRT. Wrote the paper: CSM FMR FJRT.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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                Pages: 7
                This research was supported by Projects CGL2009-07603, CGL2008-03007, CGL2012-33281 and CGL2012-32659 (Secretaría de Estado de I+D+I, Spain), Projects RNM-3715 and RNM 05212, and Research Groups RNM-178 and 0179 (Junta de Andalucía). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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