The Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary is marked by one of the largest mass extinctions in Earth’s history, with geological evidence for this event being expressed in hundreds of locations worldwide. An extensively studied section located near El Kef, northwestern Tunisia, is characterized by the classic iridium-rich K/Pg boundary layer, abundant and well-preserved microfossils, and apparently continuous sedimentation throughout the early Danian with no previously described structural complication. These features led to its designation in 1991 as the Global Stratigraphic Section and Point (GSSP) for the base of the Danian (i.e., the K/Pg boundary). However, the outcrop section has become weathered, and the “golden spike” marking the GSSP is difficult to locate. Therefore, the El Kef Coring Project aimed to provide a continuous record of unweathered sediments across the K/Pg transition in cores recovered from five rotary-drilled holes located close to the El Kef GSSP. Here, we present new, high-resolution lithologic, biostratigraphic, and geochemical data from these cores. The recovered stratigraphic successions of each hole (all drilled within ~75 m of one another) are unexpectedly different, and we identified a formerly unknown unconformity within planktic foraminiferal biozone P1b. Our results provide evidence that sedimentation at El Kef was not as continuous or free from structural complication as previously thought. Despite these challenges, we present a new composite section from the five El Kef holes and an age model correlated to the orbitally tuned record at Walvis Ridge, South Atlantic Ocean, which is critical in placing the paleoenvironmental and paleoecological records from El Kef in a global context.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.