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A meteorite from the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary

Abstract

Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary sediments are now widely recognized to contain the record of a large asteroid or comet impact event1, probably at the site of the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan peninsula2. After nearly two decades of intensive research, however, much remains unknown about the specific nature of the projectile and of the impact event itself. Here we describe a 2.5-mm fossil meteorite found in sediments retrieved from the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary in the North Pacific Ocean that we infer may be a piece of the projectile responsible for the Chicxulub crater. Geochemical and petrographic analyses of this meteorite indicate that it probably came from a typical metal- and sulphide-rich carbonaceous chondrite rather than the porous aggregate type of interplanetary dust considered typical of cometary materials3. The fact that meteorite survival should be enhanced by impacts at low (asteroidal) velocities4 also implies that this meteorite had an asteroidal rather than a cometary origin.

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Figure 1: Palaeoreconstruction map.
Figure 2: Photograph of separated meteorite and surrounding clays.
Figure 3: Backscatter electron images of polished sections from the fossil meteorite.

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Acknowledgements

This manuscript benefited significantly from discussions with A. E. Rubin and comments from H. McSween, E. Pierazzo and M. Grady. This work was supported by the Geology and Paleontology Program of the National Science Foundation. Curation of DSDP cores is supported by the NSF.

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Correspondence to Frank T. Kyte.

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Kyte, F. A meteorite from the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. Nature 396, 237–239 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/24322

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