Fossil charcoal in Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary strata: Evidence for catastrophic firestorm and megawave

Michael A. Kruge, B. Artur Stankiewicz, John C. Crelling, Alessandro Montanari, David F. Bensley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Organic matter separated from calcareous sandstone from the upper portion of a deep-water tsunami deposit at Arroyo el Mimbral, Taumalipas, Mexico, which marks the biostratigraphically defined Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, consists primarily of fossil charcoal, including semifusinite and pyrofusinite. Analytical pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry revealed the highly aromatic and polyaromatic character of the organic matter assemblage, typical of the products of partial combustion. The organic matter probably originated as terrestrial vegetation that was caught in a firestorm and subsequently transported far offshore in the backwash of a megawave. These data are consistent with the hypothesis of combustion of large masses of vegetation triggered by a giant extraterrestrial impact in the Gulf-Caribbean region (probably forming the Chicxulub crater in Yucatán) at the very end of the Cretaceous Period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1393-1397
Number of pages5
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1994

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