The extinction of marine phyto-and zoo-plankton across the K-T boundary has been well documented. Such an event may have resulted in decreased photosynthetic fixation of carbon in surface waters and a collapse of the food chain in the marine biosphere. Because the vertical and horizontal distribution of the carbon isotopic composition of total dissolved carton (TDC) in the modern ocean is controlled by the transfer of organic carbon from the surface to deep reservoirs, it follows that a major disruption of the marine biosphere would have had a major effect on the distribution of carbon isotopes in the ocean. Negative carbon isotope excursions have been identified at many marine K-T boundary sequences worldwide and are interpreted as a signal of decreased oceanic primary productivity. However, the magnitude, duration and consequences of this productivity crisis have been poorly constrained. On the basis of planktonic and benthic calcareous microfossil carbon isotope and other geochemical data from DSDP Site 577 located on the Shatsky Rise in the north-central Pacific, as well as other sites, researchers have been able to provide a reasonable estimate of the duration and magnitude of this event.