Timing and causes of forest fire at the K-Pg boundary

Amanda Santa Catharina, Benjamin Kneller* (Corresponding Author), Juliana C. Marques, Adam Daniel Mcarthur, S. R.S. Cevallos-Ferriz, Thomas Theurer, Ian A. Kane, David Muirhead

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We report K–Pg-age deposits in Baja California, Mexico, consisting of terrestrial and shallow-marine materials re-sedimented onto the continental slope, including corals, gastropods, bivalves, shocked quartz grains, an andesitic tuff with a SHRIMP U–Pb age (66.12 ± 0.65 Ma) indistinguishable from that of the K–Pg boundary, and charred tree trunks. The overlying mudstones show an iridium anomaly and fungal and fern spores spikes. We interpret these heterogeneous deposits as a direct result of the Chicxulub impact and a mega-tsunami in response to seismically-induced landsliding. The tsunami backwash carried the megaflora offshore in high-density flows, remobilizing shallow-marine fauna and sediment en route. Charring of the trees at temperatures up to > 1000 °C took place in the interval between impact and arrival of the tsunami, which on the basis of seismic velocities and historic analogues amounted to only tens of minutes at most. This constrains the timing and causes of fires and the minimum distance from the impact site over which fires may be ignited.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13006
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Early online date29 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ASC, JM and AM acknowledge support from BG/Shell Brasil through ‘BG05 UoA-UFRGS-SWB Sedimentary Basins’ and ‘DMS Tools’ projects at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, and strategic support by Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Brazil, through the R&D Brazilian levy regulation. Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) is also acknowledged for scholarship to ASC (211796/2013-1) during her thesis at University of Aberdeen, and for research fellow support to JM (316460/2021-4). We also acknowledge Kei Sato from Universidade de São Paulo for assistance with U-Pb determination.

Funding Information:
ASC, JM and AM acknowledge support from BG/Shell Brasil through ‘BG05 UoA-UFRGS-SWB Sedimentary Basins’ and ‘DMS Tools’ projects at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, and strategic support by Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Brazil, through the R&D Brazilian levy regulation. Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) is also acknowledged for scholarship to ASC (211796/2013-1) during her thesis at University of Aberdeen, and for research fellow support to JM (316460/2021-4). We also acknowledge Kei Sato from Universidade de São Paulo for assistance with U-Pb determination.

Data Availability Statement

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article (and its supplementary information files). Samples collected and prepared for all laboratory analyzes are available upon request.

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