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A newly discovered Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary locality in the western Powder River basin, Wyoming, is characterized by a palynologically defined extinction horizon, a fern-spore abundance anomaly, a strong iridium anomaly, and shock-metamorphosed quartz grains. Detailed microstratigraphic analyses show that about one third of the palynoflora (mostly angiosperm pollen) disappeared abruptly, placing the K-T boundary within a distinctive, 1- to 2-cm-thick claystone layer. Shocked quartz grains are concentrated at the top of this layer, and although fern-spore and iridium concentrations are high in this layer, they reach their maximum concentrations in a 2-cm-thick carbonaceous claystone that overlies the boundary claystone layer. The evidence supports the theory that the K-T boundary event was associated with the impact of an extraterrestrial body or bodies. Palynological analyses of samples from the K-T boundary interval document extensive changes in the flora that resulted from the boundary event. The palynologically and geochemically defined K-T boundary provides a unique time-line of use in regional basin analysis. ?? 1992.
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A new Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary locality in the western powder River basin, Wyoming: biological and geological implications