Rapid Recovery at K-Pg Ground Zero

Expedition 364The formation of the 180 km-diameter Chicxulub meteorite impact crater is believed to have resulted in the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs and 75% of species from the Cretaceous period. A new study published this week in the journal Nature by scientists from the Expedition 364 Chicxulub drilling team has found evidence that life returned to the vicinity of the crater within a decade of the mass extinction-triggering event. Sediments retrieved from the drill core of the peak ring of the impact structure have found phytoplankton skeletons and ichnofossils of burrowing organisms within a few years after the impact event and by 30,000 years a diverse ecosystem had developed. Elsewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic, life was slower to recover, taking 300,000 years. These results suggest that there was not an impact structure-related control on the recovery of life and highlight the heterogeneity of ecological recovery after a mass-extinction event.

Rapid recovery of life at ground zero of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction