Chicxulub impact predates K-T boundary: New evidence from Brazos, Texas

Gerta Keller, Thierry Adatte, Zsolt Berner, Markus Harting, Gerald Baum, Michael Prauss, Abdel Tantawy, Doris Stueben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Multidisciplinary studies, including stratigraphy, sedimentology, mineralogy and geochemistry, of the new core Mullinax-1 and outcrops along the Brazos River and Cottonmouth Creek, Falls County, Texas, reveal the complex history of the Chicxulub impact, the event deposit and the K-T boundary event. The K-T boundary, as identified by the negative δ13C shift, first occurrence of Danian planktic foraminifera and palynomorphs occurs 80 cm above the event deposit in core Mullinax-1. The underlying 80 cm interval was deposited in a shallow low oxygen environment during the latest Maastrichtian, as indicated by high stress microfossil assemblages, small shells and burrows infilled with framboidal pyrite. The underlying event deposit, commonly interpreted as K-T impact tsunami, consists of a basal conglomerate with clasts containing Chicxulub impact spherules, repeated upward fining units of spherule-rich sands, followed by hummocky cross-bedded and laminated sands, which are burrowed by Thalassinoides, Planolites and Ophiomorpha and truncated by erosion. This suggests a series of temporally separated storm events with re-colonization of the ocean floor by invertebrates between storms, rather than a series of waning tsunami-generated waves. The lithified clasts with impact spherules at the base of the event deposit provide strong evidence that the Chicxulub impact ejecta layer predates the event deposit, but was eroded and re-deposited during the latest Maastrichtian sea level lowstand. The original Chicxulub ejecta layer was discovered in a 3 cm thick yellow clay layer interbedded in undisturbed late Maastrichtian clay- and mudstones 40 cm below the base of the event deposit and near the base of planktic foraminiferal zone CF1, which spans the last 300 kyr of the Maastrichtian. The yellow clay consists of cheto smectite derived from alteration of impact glass, as indicated by rare altered glass spherules with similar chemical compositions as reworked spherules from the event deposit and Chicxulub impact spherules from NE Mexico and Haiti. The Brazos sections thus provide strong evidence that the Chicxulub impact predates the K-T boundary by about 300 kyr, consistent with earlier observations in NE Mexico and the Chicxulub crater core Yaxcopoil-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-356
Number of pages18
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 30 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Brazos
  • Chicxulub impact
  • Event deposit
  • K-T boundary
  • Texas


Dive into the research topics of 'Chicxulub impact predates K-T boundary: New evidence from Brazos, Texas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this