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CRETACEOUS-TERTIARY (K/T) MASS EXTINCTION: EFFECT OF GLOBAL CHANGE ON CALCAREOUS 91 MICROPLANKTON fore the K/T boundary. The major adverse effect of the global environmental change is seen in the rapid but gradual post-K/T faunal, floral, and Î´13C changes in low latitudes. 4. Changes in the marine environment are inferred from Î´18O and Î´13 C depth stratification of Cretaceous planktic foraminiferal species. We demonstrate that faunal differences between neritic and bathyal depths are due primarily to changes in paleodepth and their effect on the thermocline and vertical stratification of species. Most surprising, however, is the total disappearance of deep and intermediate water dwellers (as well as some surface dwellers) at or before the K/T boundary in all sections. Only surface water dwellers survived the K/T boundary. This implies that the global environmental change preferentially eliminated deeper habitats first, favoring survival in surface waters, or that subsurface dwellers were less able to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Environmental changes, however, seem to have been gradual beginning 100,000 to 300,000 yr before the end of the Cretaceous; accelerating at the boundary; and reaching a negative maximum between about 10,000 and 40,000 yr after the boundary, coincident with maximum low primary marine surface productivity in low latitudes. Return to a more stable ecosystem and increased marine productivity does not occur until about 250,000 to 350,000 yr after the K/T boundary. There is no single cause that can account for this prolonged environmental change. Hallam (1989) has consistently advocated sea-level changes as a major cause of faunal turnover. The latest Maastrichtian sea-level regression followed by a rapid transgression across the K/T boundary and into the early Tertiary (Brinkhuis and Zachariasse, 1988 Donovan et al., 1988, Schmitz et al., 1992; Keller et al., 1993), however, has largely been ignored as an important factor in the K/T faunal transition. The data presented here in terms of the differential nature of hiatus patterns in the deep-sea and neritic environment, the selective nature of pre-K/T species extinctions, and the elimination of all deep- and intermediate-dwelling planktic foraminifera at the K/T boundary all point toward sea-level change as a major contributor, if not causal factor. The late Maastrichtian sea-level regression reached a maximum just before the K/T boundary, followed by a rapid transgression into the earliest Tertiary (Figure 4.3). Elimination of deeper-dwelling species could have occurred as a result of the breakdown in the water mass structure, a change in thermocline, expansion of the oxygen minimum zone, and decreased productivity. However, many sea-level changes of equal or greater magnitude have occurred during the past 100 m.y., and none has resulted in a complete change of marine plankton over a few 100,000 yr. Thus, sea-level change is probably only one, although perhaps the major, contributing factor to the K/T faunal transition. Other environmental changes (volcanism, bolide impact) may have accelerated the demise of a Cretaceous fauna already on the decline. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We thank the reviewers H. Thierstein and W. Berger for their critical and helpful comments, and we gratefully acknowledge contributions from N. MacLeod, I. Canudo, S. D'Hondt, S. Gartner, and J. Pospichal. This research was supported by NSF Grants OCE 90-21338 and EAR 91-15044 to G.K. REFERENCES Alvarez, W., L. W. Alvarez, F. 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