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Article
Nature 285, 198 - 200 (22 May 1980); doi:10.1038/285198a0

An extraterrestrial event at the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary

J. Smit* & J. Hertogen

*Geological Institute, Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130, Amsterdam, Holland
Fysico-chemical Geology, St Michielstraat 16, Leuven, Belgium

Closely spaced samples from an uninterrupted calcareous pelagic sequence across the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary reveal that the extinction of planktonic Foraminifera and nannofossils was abrupt without any previous warning in the sedimentary record, and that the moment of extinction was coupled with anomalous trace element enrichments, especially of iridium and osmium. The rarity of these two elements in the crust of the Earth indicates that an extraterrestrial source, such as the impact of a large meteorite may have provided the required amounts of iridium and osmium.

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