The seafloor after a bolide impact: Sedimentary and biotic signatures across the Late Devonian carbonate platform following the Alamo Impact Event, Nevada, USA

Leif Tapanila, Julia R. Steenberg, Carrie J. Johnson, Reed A. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Eighty measured stratigraphic sections across the Late Devonian carbonate platform of Nevada (USA) document the uppermost terminal Alamo Breccia and overlying sediments, which record the waning energy at the end of an impact and the recolonization of the post-impact seafloor. Four sedimentary styles of terminal breccia, recognized by the continuity of normal grading versus reworking, and dolomitization, define patterns of sedimentary accommodation across the platform. Examined in combination with the first post-impact facies, the field area can be divided into deep subtidal, shallow subtidal, and peritidal zones with increased distance from the inferred crater center. Farthest away, peritidal outcrops have very low accommodation, and the terminal breccia is physically reworked and dolomitized. Biotic signals are rare in this zone. However, we find rare but exceptional deposits of impact fallout lapilli at or above the top of the breccia. The shallow subtidal region records reworked and pristine grading of the terminal breccia, which at several locations document burrowing directly into the top of the Alamo Breccia, confirming infaunal recolonization prior to post-impact sediment accumulation. Rare occurrences of erosional terminal breccia produced rockgrounds at the seafloor, some showing evidence of bioerosion. Deeper subtidal localities, closest to the crater center, preserve the thickest, continuously graded terminal breccias owing to high accommodation at the end of the event. Body and trace fossils are common in the first overlying lithofacies, although the abundance of oxidized firmground surfaces in deep water settings suggest these deposits were sediment-starved and fossil assemblages are strongly time-averaged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-629
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank the generosity of several funding agencies for facilitating the extensive field objectives of this research: NSF-SGP 1024843(LT); Paleontological Society Stephen J Gould award (LT); Idaho State University Graduate Student Research and Scholarship Committee awards FR7-01 (JRS) and F09-21 (RM); Geological Society of America Graduate Student Grant #8819-08 (CJJ); and Nevada Petroleum Society student grant (RM). Reviews by C. Stock and F. Rodriguez-Tovar improved the final manuscript. We thank J. Warme for introducing us to the project back in 2002.


  • Catastrophic
  • Event bed
  • Event stratigraphy
  • Frasnian
  • Meteor

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