The Chicxulub Asteroid Impact and Mass Extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary

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The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary similar to 65.5 million years ago marks one of the three largest mass extinctions in the past 500 million years. The extinction event coincided with a large asteroid impact at Chicxulub, Mexico, and occurred within the time of Deccan flood basalt volcanism in India. Here, we synthesize records of the global stratigraphy across this boundary to assess the proposed causes of the mass extinction. Notably, a single ejecta-rich deposit compositionally linked to the Chicxulub impact is globally distributed at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. The temporal match between the ejecta layer and the onset of the extinctions and the agreement of ecological patterns in the fossil record with modeled environmental perturbations (for example, darkness and cooling) lead us to conclude that the Chicxulub impact triggered the mass extinction.


  • Peter Schulte
  • Laia Alegret
  • Ignacio Arenillas
  • Jose A. Arz
  • Penny J. Barton
  • Paul R. Bown
  • Timothy J. Bralower
  • Gail L. Christeson
  • Philippe Claeys
  • Charles S. Cockell
  • Gareth S. Collins
  • Alexander Deutsch
  • Tamara J. Goldin
  • Kazuhisa Goto
  • Jose M. Grajales-Nishimura
  • Richard A. F. Grieve
  • Sean P. S. Gulick
  • Kirk R. Johnson
  • Wolfgang Kiessling
  • Christian Koeberl
  • David A. Kring
  • Kenneth G. MacLeod
  • Takafumi Matsui
  • Jay Melosh
  • Alessandro Montanari
  • Joanna V. Morgan
  • Clive R. Neal
  • Douglas J. Nichols
  • Richard D. Norris
  • Elisabetta Pierazzo
  • Greg Ravizza
  • Mario Rebolledo-Vieyra
  • Wolf Uwe Reimold
  • Eric Robin
  • Tobias Salge
  • Robert P. Speijer
  • Arthur R. Sweet
  • Jaime Urrutia-Fucugauchi
  • Michael T. Whalen
  • Pi Willumsen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1214-1218
Issue number5970
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch