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Dinosaur Extinction

Some key references (technical articles): impact theory
There is a vast amount of research on this mass extinctions. The following is a short list of some important and/or interesting research papers. You may be able to get these online through JSTOR, Science Direct or other online technical journal searches, or you may be able to get them through interlibrary loans)

  1. Alvarez, L.W., Alvarez, W., Asaro, F., and Michel, H.V., 1980, Extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction:  Science, v. 208, p. 1095-1108. This is the research paper that got the public (and scientists) excited about mass extinctions and the theory that a meteor impact caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. The evidence for a meteor impact was based on concentrations of a rare element called iridium at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (Paleogene) boundary. Note that at the time of this publication the impact location was not known.
  2. Bourgeois, J.T., Hansen, T.A., Wiberg, P.L., and Kauffman, E.G., 1988, A tsunami deposit at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in Texas: Science, v. 241, no. 4865, p. 567-570. Discusses evidence for a tsunami (tidal wave) deposit along the Brazos River in Texas at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (Paleogene) boundary, which is hypothesized to have been 50-100 m high, and resulted from the Chixculub impact.
  3. Hildebrand A. R., Penfield G. T., Kring D. A., Pilkington M., Camargo Z. A., Jacobsen S. B. and Boynton W. V., 1991, Chicxulub crater: A possible Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary impact crater on the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: Geology, v. 19, p. 867-871. This is the study that found the smoking gun; circular gravity and magnetic anomalies indicate a buried 180 km-wide crater beneath Chicxulub, Mexico as at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (Paleogene) boundary. Concluded that it was the likely source for the Alvarez and others (1980) impact event.
  4. Izett, G.A., 1991, Tektites in Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary rocks in Haiti and their implications on the Alvarez impact extinction hypothesis: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 96, p. 879-905. Identifies small, glassy, spherical fragments in the K-T boundary layer of Haiti as tektites, which are cooled fragments of ejected molten material from bolide impact sites, and hypothesizes that they resulted from the bolide impact at Chicxulub.
  5. Kerr, R.A., 1996, A piece of the dinosaur killer found? Science, v. 271, no. 5257, p.1806. Reports on the discovery of a tiny asteroid fragment from the K-T boundary of the Pacific Ocean that could be part of the actual Chicxulub-crater forming asteroid.
  6. Melosh, H. J., Schneider, N.M., Zahnle, K.J., and Latham, D., 1990, Ignition of global wildfires at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary: Nature, v. 342, p. 251-254. Computer modeling of global wildfires that would have been ignited by ejected material from the Chicxulub impact reentering the atmosphere and striking the ground. Note that there have been many subsequent publications that have modeled the thermal pulse and fires from the impact in different ways.
  7. Smit, J., and others, 1992, Tektite-bearing, deep-water clastic unit at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in northeastern Mexico: Geology, v. 20, no.2, p. 99-103.Describes a tsunami deposit from northeastern Mexico at the K-T boundary that contains spherules (glass droplets) from the melt of the impact in Mexico, capped by an iridium anomaly. Note that many other papers have also found tsunami deposits at this horizon in the Gulf of Mexico area.
  8. Wolbach, W.L., Gilmour, I., Anders, E., Orth, C.J., and Brooks, R.R., 1988, A global fire at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary: Nature, v. 334, p. 665-669. Describes large amounts of soot in clay layers from the K-T boundary in different places of the world. The isotopic signature of the soot from the different sites indicates that it was from a single source, inferred to be the Chicxulub impact site.
  9. Pope, K., O., D' Hondt, S.L., and Marshall, C.R., 1998, Meteorite impact and the mass extinction of species at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, v. 95, no. 19, p. 11028-11029.
    Short, non-technical summary of the importance of the Alvarez impact theory relative to geologist’s ideas about gradualistic vs. catastrophic events in earth history and the entire concept of mass extinctions.
  10. Schulte, P., Alegret, L., Arenillas, I., Arz, J., Barton, P., Bown, P., Bralower, T., Christeson, G., Claeys, P., Cockell, C., Collins, G., Deutsch, A., Goldin, T., Goto, K., Grajales-Nishimura, J., Grieve, R., Gulick, S., Johnson, K., Kiessling, W., Koeberl, C., Kring, D., MacLeod, K., Matsui, T., Melosh, J., Montanari, A., Morgan, J., Neal, C., Nichols, D., Norris, R., Pierazzo, E., Ravizza, G., Rebolledo-Vieyra, M., Reimold, W., Robin, E., Salge, T., Speijer, R., Sweet, A., Urrutia-Fucugauchi, J., Vajda, V., Whalen, M., and Willumsen, P. 2010, The Chicxulub asteroid impact and mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary: Science, v. 327 (5970), p. 1214-1218 Report outlining the evidence for an asteroid impact killing off the dinosaurs, which was reported as international consensus on the impact theory. It includes (1) summaries of data correlating the impact to the end of the Cretaceous, (2) the likely effects of the impact on the environment, (3) the consequences to life based on the fossil record, and (4) ideas for future research.

See also Mass Extinctions Web Sites

See also Earth History Web Sites (links to mass extinctions by period)

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