The K/T mass extinction, Chicxulub and the impact-kill effect

Gerta Keller, Liangquan Li, Wolfgang Stinnesbeck, Ed Vicenzi

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10 Scopus citations


The Chicxulub structure on Yucatan is now commonly believed to have been formed by the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary bolide impact that caused the catastrophic extinction of organisms from dinosaurs to microplankton. However, the mass extinction began well before the K/T boundary and the kill-effect that may be directly attributed to a K/T impact is relatively small (only planktonic foraminifera and nannoplankton affected), highly selective (only tropical-subtropical species extinct) and restricted to low latitudes. Moreover, key evidence cited in support of Chicxulub as K/T impact crater is still controversial (eg, impact origin of glass), or contradictory: the so-called 'impact-generated megatsunami deposits' in northeastern Mexico contain burrowing horizons that indicate deposition occurred over an extended period of time. This database suggests a multi-event scenario that includes a pre-K/T event (impact or volcanism) that former the spherule deposits in northeastern Mexico and a K/T event (Ir anomaly, mass extinction) with both events coinciding with climatic and sea level fluctuations during the last 200-300 kyr of the Maastrichtian.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalBulletin de la Societe Geologique de France
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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