Microscale trace-element distribution across the Cretaceous/Palaeogene ejecta layer at the Agost section: Constraining the recovery of pre-impact conditions

Claudia Sosa Montes De Oca, Gert J. de Lange, Francisca Martínez-Ruiz, Francisco Javier Rodriguez-Tovar, Miguel Ortega-Huertas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


A high-resolution, sub-mm scale analysis of the distribution of major and trace elements across the ejecta layer
marking the Cretaceous/Palaeogene boundary (KPgB) at the Agost section (SE Spain) was performed using Laser
Ablation-Inductivity Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). A KPgB interval ≈17 mm thick, has been
selected for this study. It includes gray calcareous marl from the uppermost Maastrichtian (Cretaceous), 2.02-
mm-thick red clay (the ejecta layer), and blackish-gray clay (boundary clay layer) from the lowermost Danian
(Palaeogene). The unconsolidated sediments were resin-embedded under O2-free conditions and analyzed by LAICP-
MS line continuous scan measurements at 20 μm increments and a laser-beam of 120 μm. These micron-scale
analyses show that the anomalous contents of trace and major elements in this boundary are restricted to the
ejecta layer, which displays a relatively uniform distribution over its ≈2 mm thickness. Trace and major elemental
ratios, such as Ca/Al, Ti/Al, Cr/Al, Fe/Al, Ni/Al, Cu/Al, Zn/Al, As/Al, Sb/Al and Pb/Al have similar
values below and above the ejecta layer, consistent with similar palaeoenvironmental conditions prior to and
after the impact event. Such element distribution points to anomalies exclusively restricted to the ejecta, thus a
nearly instantaneous re-establishment of pre-impact conditions right after the impact event is observed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number119431
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2019


  • KPgB
  • Ejecta layer
  • Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction
  • Microscale analyses

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