A 3.3-Ma Impact in Argentina and Possible Consequences

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Science  11 Dec 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5396, pp. 2061-2063
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5396.2061

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Enigmatic glassy materials (escorias) and red bricklike materials (tierras cocidas) occur at a restricted stratigraphic level (the top of the Chapadmalal Formation). Materials from one locality near Mar del Plata are attributed to a mid-Pliocene impact event with a radiometric and magnetostratigraphic age of 3.3 million years ago (Ma). An extinction of endemic fauna (including the glyptodonts and flightless cariamid birds) correlates with the unit containing the impact glasses. Moreover, the age of the glasses is coincident within dating uncertainties with a pulselike change in the oxygen isotope marine record in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans just before the late Pliocene deterioration of the climate.

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