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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 22;106(51):21505-10. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0908874106. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

Absence of geochemical evidence for an impact event at the Bølling-Allerød/Younger Dryas transition.

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  • 1Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


High concentrations of iridium have been reported in terrestrial sediments dated at 12.9 ka and are interpreted to support an extraterrestrial impact event as the cause of the observed extinction in the Rancholabrean fauna, changes in the Paleoindian cultures, and the onset of the Younger Dryas cooling [Firestone RB, et al. (2007) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:16016-16021]. Here, we report platinum group element (PGE: Os, Ir, Ru, Rh, Pt, Pd), gold (Au) concentrations, and (187)Os/(188)Os ratios in time-equivalent terrestrial, lacustrine, and marine sections to seek robust evidence of an extraterrestrial contribution. First, our results do not reproduce the previously reported elevated Ir concentrations. Second, (187)Os/(188)Os isotopic ratios in the sediment layers investigated are similar to average crustal values, indicating the absence of a significant meteoritic Os contribution to these sediments. Third, no PGE anomalies distinct from crustal signatures are present in the marine record in either the Gulf of California (DSDP 480, Guaymas Basin) or the Cariaco Basin (ODP 1002C). Our data show no evidence of an extraterrestrial (ET)-PGE enrichment anomaly in any of the investigated depositional settings investigated across North America and in one section in Belgium. The lack of a clear ET-PGE signature in this sample suite is inconsistent with the impact of a large chondritic projectile at the Bølling-Allerød/Younger Dryas transition.

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