Iridium Anomaly Approximately Synchronous with Terminal Eocene Extinctions

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Science  21 May 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4548, pp. 886-888
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4548.886


An iridium anomaly has been found in coincidence with the known microtektite level in cores from Deep Sea Drilling Project site 149 in the Caribbean Sea. The iridium was probably not in the microtektites but deposited simultaneously with them; this could occur if the iridium was deposited from a dust cloud resulting from a bolide impact, as suggested for the anomaly associated with the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Other workers have deduced that the microtektites are part of the North American strewn tektite field, which is dated at about 34 million years before present, and that the microtektite horizon in deep-sea cores is synchronous with the extinction of five radiolarian species. Mass extinctions also occur in terrestrial mammals within 4 million years of this time. The iridium anomaly and the tektites and microtektites are supportive of a major bolide impact about 34 million years ago.