Benthic foraminiferal abundances at the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary of ODP Hole 117-1049C at Blake Nose, Northwest Atlantic (Appendix A)
Sediments recovered at lower bathyal ODP Site 1049 on Blake Nose (Northwestern Atlantic) offer an opportunity to study environmental changes at the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/P) boundary relatively close to the Chicxulub impact structure on the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. In Hole 1049C, the boundary is located at the base of a 9-cm-thick layer with abundant spherules, considered to be impact ejecta. Uppermost Maastrichtian oozes below, and lowermost Danian pelagic oozes above the spherulebed contain well-preserved bathyal benthic foraminifera. The spherule-bed itself, in contrast, contains a mixture of shallow (neritic) and deeper (bathyal) species, and specimens vary strongly in preservation. This assemblage was probably formed by reworking and down-slope transport triggered by the K/P impact. Across the spherule-bed (i.e., the K/P boundary) only ~7% of benthic foraminiferal species became extinct, similar to the low extinction rates of benthic foraminifera worldwide. Quantitative analysis of benthic foraminiferal assemblages and morphogroups in the >63-µm size fraction indicates a relatively eutrophic, stable environment during the latest Maastrichtian, interrupted by a sudden decrease in the food supply to the benthos at the K/P boundary and a decrease in diversity of the faunas, followed by a stepped recovery during the earliest Danian. The recovery was probably linked to the gradual recovery of surface-dwelling primary producers.