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Rapid short-term cooling following the Chicxulub impact at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary
Vellekoop, J.; Sluijs, A.; Smit, J.; Schouten, S.; Weijers, J.W.H.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; Brinkhuis, H. (2014). Rapid short-term cooling following the Chicxulub impact at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 111(21): 7537-7541.
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The Academy: Washington, D.C.. ISSN 0027-8424, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    K-Pg boundary; bolide impact; Climate change; organic paleothermometry

Authors  Top 
  • Vellekoop, J.
  • Sluijs, A.
  • Smit, J.
  • Schouten, S., more
  • Weijers, J.W.H.
  • Sinninghe Damsté, J.S., more
  • Brinkhuis, H., more

    The mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, similar to 66 Ma, is thought to be caused by the impact of an asteroid at Chicxulub, present-day Mexico. Although the precise mechanisms that led to this mass extinction remain enigmatic, most postulated scenarios involve a short-lived global cooling, a so-called "impact winter" phase. Here we document a major decline in sea surface temperature during the first months to decades following the impact event, using TEX86 paleothermometry of sediments from the Brazos River section, Texas. We interpret this cold spell to reflect, to our knowledge, the first direct evidence for the effects of the formation of dust and aerosols by the impact and their injection in the stratosphere, blocking incoming solar radiation. This impact winter was likely a major driver of mass extinction because of the resulting global decimation of marine and continental photosynthesis.

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