Biotic effects of the Chicxulub impact, K-T catastrophe and sea level change in Texas

G. Keller, S. Abramovich, Z. Berner, T. Adatte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Biotic effects of the Chicxulub impact, the K-T event and sea level change upon planktic foraminifera were evaluated in a new core and outcrops along the Brazos River, Texas, about 1000 km from the Chicxulub impact crater on Yucatan, Mexico. Sediment deposition occurred in a middle neritic environment that shallowed to inner neritic depths near the end of the Maastrichtian. The sea level fall scoured submarine channels, which were infilled by a sandstone complex with reworked Chicxulub impact spherules and clasts with spherules near the base. The original Chicxulub impact ejecta layer was discovered 45-60 cm below the sandstone complex, and predates the K-T mass extinction by about 300,000 years. Results show that the Chicxulub impact caused no species extinctions or any other significant biotic effects. The subsequent sea level fall to inner neritic depth resulted in the disappearance of all larger (> 150 μm) deeper dwelling species creating a pseudo-mass extinction and a survivor assemblage of small surface dwellers and low oxygen tolerant taxa. The K-T boundary and mass extinction was identified 40-80 cm above the sandstone complex where all but some heterohelicids, hedbergellids and the disaster opportunistic guembelitrids went extinct, coincident with the evolution of first Danian species and the global δ13C shift. These data reveal that sea level changes profoundly influenced marine assemblages in near shore environments, that the Chicxulub impact and K-T mass extinction are two separate and unrelated events, and that the biotic effects of this impact have been vastly overestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-68
Number of pages17
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Biotic effects
  • Chicxulub impact
  • K-T mass extinction
  • Texas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Paleontology


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