The Distribution of Benthic Foraminifera Across the Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary in Texas (Brazos River) and Denmark (Stevns Klint)
Published:January 01, 2011
Malcolm B. Hart, Sarah R. Searle, Sean E. Feist, Andrew D. Leighton, Gregory D. Price, Christopher W. Smart, Richard J. Twitchett, 2011. "The Distribution of Benthic Foraminifera Across the Cretaceous–Paleogene Boundary in Texas (Brazos River) and Denmark (Stevns Klint)", The End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction and the Chicxulub Impact in Texas, Gerta Keller, Thierry Adatte
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The benthic foraminifera have been studied from a large number of samples collected from successions both in, and close to, the Brazos River (Falls County, Texas, U.S.A.) and from the cliffs of Stevns Klint (south of Copenhagen, Denmark). The sections from the Brazos River contain extensive and nearly continuous outcrops, recording the so-called “event” deposits and the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. Micropaleontological analysis of samples taken from the Mullinax-1 core, and some of the exposures in the Brazos River (and tributaries), have been investigated for benthic and planktic foraminifera, all of which are indicative of relatively shallow shelf conditions. The benthic foraminifera suffer a significant loss of diversity at the level of the “event” deposits, which appear to predate the micropaleontological Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, but no mass extinction is recorded. The agglutinated taxa almost disappear at this level, and the faunal changes indicate that there may have been a shallowing at that time. The benthic foraminifera from Stevns Klint are very different from those recorded in Texas, being typical of assemblages in the chalk facies of northwestern Europe. At the base of the Højerup Member (previously known as the Grey Chalk) there are significant changes in the benthic assemblage, again suggestive of a shallowing event at the level of two closely spaced hardgrounds, which often merge into a single horizon. The “event” deposits of the Brazos River successions may, therefore, be related to events associated with the hardground horizon at Stevns Klint, and the evidence for this interpretation is presented. This, and other, correlations provide data for the construction of a sequence stratigraphy for the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary interval.
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The End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction and the Chicxulub Impact in Texas
One of the liveliest, contentious, and long-running scientific debates began over three decades ago with the discovery of an iridium anomaly in a thin clay layer at Gubbio, Italy, that led to the hypothesis that a large impact caused the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. For many scientists the discovery of an impact crater near Chicxulub on Yucatan in 1991 all but sealed the impact-kill hypothesis as proven with the impact as sole cause for the mass extinction. Ever since that time evidence to the contrary has generally been interpreted as an impact-tsunami disbturbance. A multi-disciplinary team of reserachers has tested this assertion in new cores and a dozen outcrops along the Brazos River, Texas. In this area undisturbed sediments reveal a complete time stratigraphic sequence containing the primary impact spherule ejecta layer in late Maastrichtian claystones deposited about 200-300 thousand years before the mass extinction.