Emplacement of Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary shocked quartz from Chicxulub crater

Walter Alvarez, Philippe Claeys, Susan W. Kieffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Observations on shocked quartz in Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary sediments compellingly tied to Chicxulub crater raise three problems. First, in North America shocked quartz occurs above the main K-T ejecta layer. Second, shocked quartz is more abundant west than east of Chicxulub. Third, shocked quartz reached distances requiring initial velocities up to 8 kilometers per second, corresponding to shock pressures that would produce melt, not the moderate-pressure shock lamellae observed. Shock devolatilization and the expansion of carbon dioxide and water from impacted wet carbonate, producing a warm, accelerating fireball after the initial hot fireball of silicate vapor, may explain all three problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-935
Number of pages6
Issue number5226
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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