Multiple impacts across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary

Gerta Keller, W. Stinnesbeck, T. Adatte, D. Stüben

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121 Scopus citations


The stratigraphy and age of altered impact glass (microtektites, microkrystites) ejecta layers from the Chicxulub crater are documented in Late Maastrichtian and Early Danian sediments in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Haiti. In northeastern Mexico, two to four ejecta layers are present in zone CF1, which spans the last 300 ky of the Maastrichtian. The oldest ejecta layer is dated at 65.27±0.03 Ma based on sediment accumulation rates and extrapolated magnetostratigraphy. All younger ejecta layers from the Maastrichtian and Early Danian Parvularugoglobigerina eugubina zone Pla(l) may represent repeated episodes of reworking of the oldest layer at times of sea level changes and tectonic activity. The K/T boundary impact event (65.0 Ma) is not well represented in this area due to widespread erosion. An Early Danian Pla(l) Ir anomaly is present in five localities (Bochil, Actela, Coxquihui, Trinitaria and Haiti) and is tentatively identified as a third impact event at about 64.9 Ma. A multiimpact scenario is most consistent with the impact ejecta evidence. The first impact is associated with major Deccan volcanism and likely contributed to the rapid global warming of 3-4 °C in intermediate waters between 65.4 and 65.2 Ma, decrease in primary productivity and onset of terminal decline in planktic foraminiferal populations. The K/T boundary impact marks a major drop in primary productivity and the extinction of all tropical and subtropical species. The Early Danian impact may have contributed to the delayed recovery in productivity and evolutionary diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-363
Number of pages37
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Ir
  • Maastrichtian-Danian
  • Microkrystites
  • Microtektites
  • Multiple impacts
  • PGE anomalies


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