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The most immediate effects of the terminal-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact, essential to understanding the global-scale environmental and biotic collapses that mark the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction, are poorly resolved despite extensive previous work. Here, we help to resolve this by describing a rapidly emplaced, high-energy onshore surge deposit from the terrestrial Hell Creek Formation in Montana. Associated ejecta and a cap of iridium-rich impactite reveal that its emplacement coincided with the Chicxulub event. Acipenseriform fish, densely packed in the deposit, contain ejecta spherules in their gills and were buried by an inland-directed surge that inundated a deeply incised river channel before accretion of the fine-grained impactite. Although this deposit displays all of the physical characteristics of a tsunami runup, the timing (<1 hour postimpact) is instead consistent with the arrival of strong seismic waves from the magnitude Mw ∼10 to 11 earthquake generated by the Chicxulub impact, identifying a seismically coupled seiche inundation as the likely cause. Our findings present high-resolution chronology of the immediate aftereffects of the Chicxulub impact event in the Western Interior, and report an impact-triggered onshore mix of marine and terrestrial sedimentation—potentially a significant advancement for eventually resolving both the complex dynamics of debris ejection and the full nature and extent of biotic disruptions that took place in the first moments postimpact.
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DePalma, Robert A., "A seismically induced onshore surge deposit at the KPg boundary, North Dakota" (2019). Department of Earth and Environment. 52.
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