Abstract

A 2–4 m thick seismite, in places overlain by a previously unreported tsunamite, can be traced across >250,000 km2 of the outcrop and subcrop of the latest Triassic (Rhaetian) Cotham Member of the Penarth Group, United Kingdom, an extent unique for the British Phanerozoic. Its consistent thickness, intensity of deformation, and preferred orientations of slump-fold axes indicate a seismic event of M > 10 with an epicenter >600 km W or NW of central Britain. The magnitude of the event is incompatible with known terrestrial mechanisms (fault, volcano) but is consistent with a major bolide impact. A short, but unknown, interval separates the top of the Cotham Member seismite from major geochemical and biotic perturbations associated with the end-Triassic extinction, although a direct link between the seismite and these other events remains equivocal. The exceptional extent of “mega-seismites” such as this may prove a useful indicator of previously undocumented bolide impacts.

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