Abstract

A 40 m stratigraphic section at Gorgonilla Island, Colombia, provides a unique deep-marine, low-latitude, Southern Hemisphere record of events related to the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact and the global Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary (KPB). The KPB is marked by a 20-mm-thick, densely packed spherule bed as defined by planktic foraminifera, in contrast to complex relationships found in high-energy, impact-proximal sites in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean basins. The absence of basal Danian foraminiferal Zone P0 may indicate a possible hiatus of <10 ka immediately above the spherule bed, but is most probably an artifact of deposition below the calcite compensation depth as suggested by the nearly complete absence of calcareous fossils for 20 m below the Zone Pα. A weighted mean 40Ar/39Ar age of 66.051 ± 0.031 Ma for 25 fresh glassy spherules unequivocally establishes both their derivation from Chicxulub, and the association between the impact and the KPB. The spherule bed, and Maastrichtian strata below it, display soft-sediment deformation features consistent with strong seismic motion, suggesting that seismic activity in the immediate aftermath of the Chicxulub impact continued for weeks. We discovered a fern-spike immediately above the spherule bed, representing the first record of this pioneer vegetation from the South American continent, and from a low-latitude (tropical) environment.

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