Carbonates and Evaporites

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 178–185 | Cite as

Explosive bolide impact designates the Cambrian Explosion, terminating the Cambrian event in New York



In 1978 as chairman of the Geology and Geography Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) I planned a program for the 1980 annual convention in San Franscisco, California. The 1980 program included Louis W. Alvarez (1911–1988) who reported that an asteroid 10 kilometers in diameter struck the earth at the end of the Cretaceous. This conclusion resulted from Alvarez and colleagues discovery in Gubbio, Europe, of a centimeter-thick clay layer among carbonate rock containing iridium, a siderophile element, at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Involvement in this discussion stimulated my interest in the study of Taconic carbonate deposits of my home and university setting in the Troy, New York and contiguous areas dating to the base of the Cambrian. Analyses of the New York carbonate samples gave comparable iridium results to those from the end of the Cretaceous in Europe. From these iridium anomalies I concluded that an extraterrestrial source, namely an asteroid, produced the iridium anomalies in the Cambrian of New York.

The studied Cambrian (Taconic) deposits of New York contain the highest87Sr/86Sr values of the past 2 b.y. Strontium is inferred to have been introduced by meteorite impact, yet meteorites generally have low 87/86 ratios. Stable isotope composition of the carbonate rock was likewise affected by meteorite impact. In summary the origin of the studied Cambrian carbonate deposits involved the “Cambrian Explosion”.


Cambrian Ordovician Iridium Micrite Meteorite Impact 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ALVAREZ, L.W., ALVAREZ, W., ASARO, F., and MICHEL, H.V., 1980, Extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction:Science, v. 308, p. 1095–1108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ALVAREZ, WALTER, ASARO, FRANK, and MONTANARI, ALESSANDRO, 1990, Iridium Profile for 10 million years across the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary at Gubbio (Italy):Science, v. 250, p. 1700–1701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. ARCHIBALD, J.D., 1996a, Dinosaur Extinction and the End of an Era: What the Fossils Say. New York, Columbia University Press, 237 p.Google Scholar
  4. ARCHIBALD, J.D., 1996b, Testing extinction theories at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary using the vertebrate fossil record, In, MacLeod, N., and Keller, G., eds. The Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction: biotic and environmental changes. W. W. Norton & Co., New York, p. 373–398.Google Scholar
  5. ARCHIBALD, J.D., 1996c, Dinosaur Extinction and the End of an Era: What the Fossils Say. In, Wolberg, D. L. and Stump, E., eds., Dinofest International: Symposium April 18–21, 1996, Program with Abstracts, Arizona State University, p. 25.Google Scholar
  6. ARCHIBALD, J.D., 1996d, No statistical support for sudden (or gradual) extinction of dinosaurs. Reply:Geology, v. 24, p. 958–959.Google Scholar
  7. BARTA, N.C., BERGSTRÖM, S.M., SALTZMAN, M.R., and SCHMITZ, BIRGER, 2007, First Record of the Orodovician Guttenberg δ13C Excursion (GICE) in New York State and Ontario: Local and Regional Chronostratigraphic Implications:Northeastern Geology and Environmental Sciences, v. 29, no. 4.Google Scholar
  8. BIRD, J.M., and DEWEY, J.F., 1970, Lithosphere Plate-Continental Margin Tectonics and the Evolution of the Appalachian Orogeny:Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 81, p. 1031–1060.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. BOSWORTH, W.M. and VOLLMER, F.W., 1981, Structures of the Medial Ordovician flysch of eastern New York: deformation of synorogenic deposits in an overthrust environment:Journal of Geology, v. 89, p. 551–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. BRUNS, P., DULLO, W.-C., HAY, W.W., WOLD, C.N., and PERNICKA, E., 1996, Iridium concentration as an estimator of instantaneous sediment accumulation rates:Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 66, no. 3, p. 608–611.Google Scholar
  11. BUCHER, W.H., 1957, Taconic klippe B a stratigraphic-structural problem:Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 68, p. 657–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. CHANDLEE, G.O., 2007, Book Review: Parker, Andrew, 2005, In the Blink of An Eye. Westview Press, Perseus Books Group, 237 p., $26.00:Houston Geological Society Bulletin, June.Google Scholar
  13. DYKSTRA, J.C.F. and LONGMAN, M.W., 1996, Gas reservoir potential of the Lower Ordovician Beekmantown Group, Quebec Lowlands, Canada: Reply:American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 80, no. 10.Google Scholar
  14. FRIEDMAN, G. M., 1988, Slides and slumps:Earth Science, Fall, p. 21–23.Google Scholar
  15. FRIEDMAN, G. M., 1995, Cambro-Lower Ordovician (Sauk) facies and sequences: Case history from eastern North America, p. 1–9in P.H. Pause and M.P. Candelaria, eds., Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Permian Basin Section Publication 95-36 and Permian Basin Graduate Center Publication 5-95, xxx p.Google Scholar
  16. FRIEDMAN, G.M., 1996, Strontium-Isotopic Signatures Reflect an Origin of Dolomite by Fresh-water Effluent: the Pine Plains Formation (Wappinger Group, Cambrian) of Southeastern New York:Carbonates and Evaporites, v. 11, no. 1, p. 134–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. FRIEDMAN, G.M., 1998, Bolide Impact Terminating the Cambrian in New York. New York Academy of Science Flyer. Monday April 6, 1998, 7:30 pm.Google Scholar
  18. FRIEDMAN, G.M., 1999, Impact from Space: A Historical Discussion:Earth Sciences History, v. 18, no. 2, p. 157–158.Google Scholar
  19. FRIEDMAN, G.M., 2002, Highest Phanerozoic Strontium Isotopic Ratios of Pre-Rift Late Cambrian Passive Margin in New York State, USA: Products of Continental Weathering and Orogenesis:Sedimentology, v. 147, p. 143–153.Google Scholar
  20. FRIEDMAN, G. M. and SANDERS, J. E., 1978, Principles of sedimentology: New York-Chichester-Brisbane-Toronto, John Wiley and Sons, 792 p.Google Scholar
  21. FRIEDMAN, G.M. and SANDERS, J.E., 1984, Sedimentary environments in Paleozoic strata of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern New York:The Compass, v. 61, no. 4, p. 155–180.Google Scholar
  22. FRIEDMAN, G.M., CHAKRABORTY, CHANDAN, and KOLKAS, M.M., 1996, δ13C Excursion in the End-Proterozoic Strata of the Vindhyan Basin (Central India): It’s Chronostratigraphic Significance:Carbonates and Evaporites, v. 11, no. 2, p. 206–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. HOEFS, J., 1980, Stable isotope geochemistry. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, 208 p.Google Scholar
  24. KERR, R.A., 2001, Paring down the big mass extinctions:Science, v. 294, p. 2072–2073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. LAND, L.S., 1980, The isotopic and trace element geochemistry of dolomite: the state of the art:in D.H. Zenger, J.B. Dunham, and R.L. Ethingon, eds., Concepts and Models of Dolomitization: Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists (SEPM) Special Publication, no. 28, p. 87–110.Google Scholar
  26. LOWMAN, S.W., 1962, Various Types of Breccias, Upper Ordovician to Lower Cambrian, near Troy, New York. Geological Society of America Special Paper, no. 68, p. 220–221.Google Scholar
  27. MONTANEZ, I.P., BANNER, J.L., OSLEGER, D.A., BORG, L.F., and BOSSERMAN, P.J., 1996, Integrated Sr isotope variations and sea-level history of Middle to Upper Cambrian platform carbonates; implications for the evolution of Cambrian seawater87Sr/86Sr:Geology, v. 24, no. 10, p. 917–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. POPP, B.N., PODOSEK, F.A., BRANNON, J.C., ANDERSON, T.F., and PIER, J., 1986,87Sr/86Sr ratios in Permo-Carboniferous sea water from the analyses of well preserved brachiopod shells:Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 50, p. 1321–1328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. PROUTY, W.F., 1952, Carolina Bays and Their Origin:Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 63, no. 2, p. 167–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. SCHNEIDERMAN, N. and HARRIS, P. M., eds., 1985, Carbonate Cements, Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication no. 36.Google Scholar
  31. VEIZER, J., 1983, Trace elements and isotopes in sedimentary carbonates: in READER, R.J., editor, Carbonates: Mineralogy and Chemistry:Mineralogical Society of America, Reviews in Mineralogy, v. 11, p. 265–299.Google Scholar
  32. WEAVER, J.D., 1957, Stratigraphy and structure of the Copake quadrangle, New York:Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 68, p. 725–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. ZENGER, D.H. and DUNHAM, J.B., 1980, Concepts and models of dolomitization. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication, no. 28.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northeastern Science FoundationTroy

Personalised recommendations