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The interval spanning the uppermost Hell Creek Formation to the overlying lowermost Fort Union Formation in north-central Montana encompasses a marked paleoenvironmental change (associated with the formational contact), the Chicxulub impact event, and the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. We have examined the record of this transition at the Hell Creek Formation lectostratotype to determine the placement of these events using a series of lithological, geochemical, palynological, and 40Ar/39Ar geochronological analyses. The claystone derived from the Chicxulub impact is identified based on lithological criteria, enrichment of iridium and osmium, and osmium isotope ratios. The impact claystone also contains a Cyathidites fern spike. The first continuous lignite horizon in the section immediately overlies this claystone and represents the Hell Creek–Fort Union formational contact. A tuff ~3 m above the impact layer is dated to 66.024 ± 0.059 Ma. Given this evidence, at the lectostratotype the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is coincident with the impact claystone and therefore with the formational contact. Due to poor preservation and apparent reworking of palynomorphs surrounding the formational contact, the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary is difficult to identify based on biostratigraphically significant taxa. The presence of marine dinoflagellates is suggestive of reworking of older marine sediments during the deposition of the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary interval.

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