Spherule deposits in Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary sediments in Belize and Guatemala

G. Keller, W. Stinnesbeck, T. Adatte, B. Holland, D. Stüben, M. Harting, C. De Leon, J. De La Cruz

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42 Scopus citations


Large spheroid deposits at Albion Island and Armenia in northern and central Belize and the spherule deposits of southern Belize and eastern Guatemala have the same glass origin based on the presence of almost pure Cheto smectite derived from alteration of impact glass from the Chicxulub impact on Yucatan, Mexico. The same origin has also been determined for altered glass spherules in Mexico, Haiti and the Caribbean. However, the spherule layers have variable ages as a result of erosion and redeposition, with an early Danian (Parvularugoglobigerina eugubina) zone Pla(1) age in southern Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, southern Mexico and the Caribbean, and a pre-K-T (Plummerita, hantkeninoides) zone CFI age of 65.27 ± 0.03 Ma in NE Mexico. A pre-K-T age for the Chicxulub impact has now also been determined from the new Yaxcopoil 1 core drilled in the impact crater. These data show that Chicxulub was not the K-T impact that caused the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, but an earlier impact event. A multiple impact hypothesis, volcanism and climate change appears the likely scenario for the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-795
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


  • Belize
  • Chicxulub crater
  • Guatemala
  • K-T boundary
  • Spherules


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