Rapid Resurgence of Marine Productivity After the Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 129-132
DOI: 10.1126/science.1176233

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Algal Rebound

The extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary 65.5 million years ago represented a sudden and dramatic disruption of global ecosystems. Sepúlveda et al. (p. 129) now show, however, that algae recovered rapidly and that photosynthesis and primary production thus also recovered. The authors tracked algal productivity in the thick boundary layer in Denmark through a series of diagnostic biomarkers and isotopes. Algal productivity dropped abruptly during the extinction event but then recovered within the boundary layer, perhaps as quickly as within 50 years of the impact.

  • Present address: Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT, 45 Carleton Street E25-623, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

  • Present address: Institute of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Burgweg 11, 07749 Jena, Germany.