Abstract

Exposed near Braggs, Alabama, is one of the few well-studied, nearly continuous shallow-marine Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary sections; it allows a glimpse of the biotic and environmental changes that occurred in the latest Cretaceous to earliest Paleocene. Paleomagnetic, strontium isotopic, and biostratigraphic data closely constrain the age of a series of lithologic, geochemical, and biotic variations and suggest that no more than 100–200 ka could be missing at the boundary. A major reduction in macrofaunal diversity associated with lithofacies changes occurs prior to but within 300 ka of the nannofossil-defined boundary. Approximately 40% of the apparent faunal reduction is attributed to the “Lazarus effect.” Faunal and floral assemblages, trends in carbon isotopic composition of benthic invertebrates, and lithologic characteristics indicate that a latest Maestrichtian regression culminated near the boundary (Chron C29R; Micula murus zone), significantly later than recent estimates. Water depths at this site remained shallow during the subsequent early Paleocene (zone NP1) transgression and did not reach depths equivalent to those of the late Maestrichtian until zone NP2. Relatively minor climatic changes across the boundary are suggested by a ≤4 °C cooling trend seen in the oxygen-isotope paleotemperatures. A high-resolution 87Sr/86Sr record from well-preserved macrofossil calcite shows a pattern of smooth variation and elevated values near the boundary; however, the early Paleocene “spike” of other workers was not found.

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