The Cretaceous-Tertiary Transition

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Science  25 Mar 1983:
Vol. 219, Issue 4591, pp. 1383-1390
DOI: 10.1126/science.219.4591.1383


The fossil sequences from cores across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary show a, range of transition times and transition time intervals depending on the fossil indicators and the location of the site. These variations, together with the pattern of iridium distribution with depth at some sites, differences in total amounts of iridium, variations in noble metal abundances normalized to extraterrestrial concentrations, the depositional effects that might be expected in a reducing environment, and the clay mineralogy of the boundary layer clays, put into question the interpretation that an extraterrestrial event was the cause of the faunal changes and the iridium anomaly in the vicinity of the Cretaceous-Tertiary transition. It seems more likely that an explanation for the changes during the transition will come from continued examination of the great variety of terrestrial events that took place at that time, including extensive volcanism, major regression of the sea from the land, geochemical changes, and paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic changes.