The course of the biotic recovery after the impact-related disruption of photosynthesis and mass extinction event at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary has been intensely debated. The resurgence of marine primary production in the aftermath remains poorly constrained because of the paucity of fossil records tracing primary producers that lack skeletons. Here we present a high-resolution record of geochemical variation in the remarkably thick Fiskeler (also known as the Fish Clay) boundary layer at Kulstirenden, Denmark. Converging evidence from the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen and abundances of algal steranes and bacterial hopanes indicates that algal primary productivity was strongly reduced for only a brief period of possibly less than a century after the impact, followed by a rapid resurgence of carbon fixation and ecological reorganization.

Interested? Confused? I’ve written up a more brain-friendly version of this at Surprising Science.

Sepulveda, J., Wendler, J., Summons, R., & Hinrichs, K. (2009). Rapid Resurgence of Marine Productivity After the Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction Science, 326 (5949), 129-132 DOI: 10.1126/science.1176233


  1. #1 Joseph Steinberg
    October 7, 2009

    Am I leaping too far to ponder if, in a nuclear winter scenario, the oceans would recover their fecundity quickly, based on this discovery?