Fingerprinting the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary impact with Zn isotopesOPEN ACCESS 

Ryan Mathur, Brandon Mahan, Marissa Spencer, Linda Godfrey, Neil Landman, Matthew Garb, D. Graham Pearson, Sheng-Ao Liu & Francisca E. Oboh-Ikuenobe

Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 4128 (2021)
Published: 05 July 2021


“Numerous geochemical anomalies exist at the K-Pg boundary that indicate the addition of extraterrestrial materials; however, none fingerprint volatilization, a key process that occurs during large bolide impacts. Stable Zn isotopes are an exceptional indicator of volatility-related processes, where partial vaporization of Zn leaves the residuum enriched in its heavy isotopes. Here, we present Zn isotope data for sedimentary rock layers of the K-Pg boundary, which display heavier Zn isotope compositions and lower Zn concentrations relative to surrounding sedimentary rocks, the carbonate platform at the impact site, and most carbonaceous chondrites. Neither volcanic events nor secondary alteration during weathering and diagenesis can explain the Zn concentration and isotope signatures present. The systematically higher Zn isotope values within the boundary layer sediments provide an isotopic fingerprint of partially evaporated material within the K-Pg boundary layer, thus earmarking Zn volatilization during impact and subsequent ejecta transport associated with an impact at the K-Pg.”