Origin of the Penalver Formation in northwestern Cuba and its relation to K/T boundary impact event

H. Takayama, R. Tada, T. Matsui, M. A. Iturralde-Vinent, T. Oji, E. Tajika, S. Kiyokawa, D. Garcia, H. Okada, T. Hasegawa, K. Toyoda

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56 Citations (Scopus)


The uppermost Maastrichtian Penalver Formation and its equivalents in northwestern Cuba are characterized by thick, normal-graded calcarenite with distinct basal conglomerate, and have been suspected as deposits related to the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (K/T) impact. However, its depositional mechanism is not well understood and clear evidence for its association with the impact has never been presented. In this study, detailed field survey and petrographic observations were carried out on the Penalver Formation in order to clarify its sedimentary processes and to test its relation to the K/T impact. The Penalver Formation at the type locality near Havana is approximately 180 m thick and is subdivided into the Basal, Lower, Middle, Upper and Uppermost Members based on its lithology. The Basal Member consists of massive, poorly sorted, calcirudite with grain-supported fabric, which contains abundant macrofossils of shallow-marine origin and occasional large intraclasts of the underlying strata, suggesting that it was formed by a grain flow from a carbonate platform on the Cretaceous Cuban Arc. The Lower to Uppermost Members consist of massive calcarenite and calcilutite that show upward fining. Composition of the calcarenite is distinctly different from that of the Basal Member. The homogeneous appearance, coarse-tail normal grading, abundant water escape structures, and abundant reworked fossils in these members are consistent with those of the Mediterranean 'homogenite', a deep sea tsunami-induced deposit that was formed by settling from a high density suspension. Repetition of thin conglomerate beds in the Lower Member that contain well-sorted, well-rounded mud clasts and shallow marine fossils is considered to reflect intermittent lateral flow possibly induced by a series of tsunami waves during an early stage of settling of grains from a high density suspension. Altered vesicular glass of probable impact origin and shocked quartz are discovered in the Basal and the Lower to Upper Members, respectively. Together with the biostratigraphically constrained age of the Penalver Formation, this evidence suggests that the Penalver Formation has a genetic relation to the K/T impact. Distribution of altered vesicular glass and shocked quartz grains can explain the sequence of the initial grain flow and the following tsunami waves. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-320
Number of pages26
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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