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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 16;101(11):3753-8. Epub 2004 Mar 2.

Chicxulub impact predates the K-T boundary mass extinction.

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  • 1Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.


Since the early l990s the Chicxulub crater on Yucatan, Mexico, has been hailed as the smoking gun that proves the hypothesis that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs and caused the mass extinction of many other organisms at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary 65 million years ago. Here, we report evidence from a previously uninvestigated core, Yaxcopoil-1, drilled within the Chicxulub crater, indicating that this impact predated the K-T boundary by approximately 300,000 years and thus did not cause the end-Cretaceous mass extinction as commonly believed. The evidence supporting a pre-K-T age was obtained from Yaxcopoil-1 based on five independent proxies, each with characteristic signals across the K-T transition: sedimentology, biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, stable isotopes, and iridium. These data are consistent with earlier evidence for a late Maastrichtian age of the microtektite deposits in northeastern Mexico.

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