Abstract

Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary sections in northeastern Mexico contain marly formations separated by a controversial clastic unit. Benthic foraminifera in seven sections indicate middle and lower bathyal depths of deposition for the marls, with the exception of the upper bathyal northernmost section. Mixed neritic-bathyal faunas were present in the clastic unit, indicating redeposition in the deep basin by mass-wasting processes resulting from the K-T bolide impact in the Gulf of Mexico. Benthic foraminifera in the Mexican sections, and at other deep-sea locations, were not subject to major extinction at the time of impact, but there were temporary changes in assemblage composition. Benthic faunas indicate well- oxygenated bottom waters and mesotrophic conditions during the late Maastrichtian and increased food supply during the latest Maastrichtian. The food supply decreased drastically just after the K-T boundary, possibly because of the collapse of surface productivity. Cretaceous and early Paleogene benthic foraminifera, however, did not exhibit the benthic-pelagic coupling of present-day faunas, as documented by the lack of significant extinction at the K-T collapse of surface productivity. Much of the food supplied to the benthic faunas along this continental margin might have been refractory material transported from land or shallow coastal regions. The decrease in food supply at the K-T boundary might be associated with the processes of mass wasting, which removed surface, food-rich sediment. Benthic faunas show a staggered pattern of faunal recovery in the lowermost Paleogene, consistent with a staged recovery of the vertical organic flux but also with a gradual buildup of organic matter in the sediment.

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