Deccan Traps Volcanism May Have Contributed to Dinosaur Extinction

The Chicxulub asteroid touching on as well as the eruption of the massive Deccan volcanic tell inwards Republic of Republic of India are ii causes of the end-Cretaceous volume extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs at the destination of the Cretaceous period. Image credit: Sergey Krasovskiy.

In Dec 2013, a squad of scientists headed yesteryear Dr Brian Gertsch from the University of Lausanne made an expedition to the Deccan Traps – a share that preserves remnants of i of the largest volcanic eruptions on our planet.

For ii weeks, they looked for volcanic rocks that mightiness comprise zircon – a uranium-containing mineral that forms inwards magma presently afterward an eruption, as well as that tin move used equally a real precise clock for determining the historic catamenia of rocks; the mineral typically crystallizes inwards magma containing high amounts of silica as well as zirconium.

The scientists collected to a greater extent than than 50 samples of rocks from the share representing the largest pulse of volcanism.

Fortunately, samples from both the bottom as well as exceed of this volcanic layer contained zircon, allowing the squad to pinpoint the timing of the starting fourth dimension as well as destination of the Deccan Traps eruptions.

Their results, published inwards the mag Science, present that the eruption began 250,000 years earlier the Chicxulub asteroid smasher (66 i G 1000 years ago) as well as continued for 500,000 years afterward the impact, spewing a full of 1.5 i G 1000 foursquare km of lava.

“We bring 750,000 years equally the duration for the principal pulse of volcanism, merely it’d move overnice to know whether that fourth dimension represents a constant flux of magma, or if pulses of magmatism were erupted over an fifty-fifty shorter catamenia of time,” said report co-author Michael Eddy, who is a graduate educatee at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The volcanism may bring released unsafe levels of volatile chemicals into the air, poisoning the atmosphere as well as oceans.

“If models of volatile unloosen are correct, we’re talking near something like to what’s happening today: lots of carbon dioxide beingness emitted into the atmosphere real rapidly,” Mr Eddy explained.

“Ultimately what that tin create is atomic number 82 to sea acidification, killing a pregnant constituent of plankton – the base of operations of the nutrient chain. If y’all wipe them out, therefore you’d bring catastrophic effects.”

Based on the precise dates for the Deccan Traps, the scientists believe the massive eruptions may bring played a pregnant business office inwards extinguishing the dinosaurs – although the exact kill machinery may never move known.

“I don’t intend the ground volition e’er teach away. The asteroid touching on may bring caused the extinction. But possibly its lawsuit was enhanced because things were softened upward a chip yesteryear the eruption of these volcanoes,” said co-author Prof Sam Bowring of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The story that is emerging is that possibly both mightiness bring been involved. Perhaps the destination of the dinosaurs was caused yesteryear a one-two punch,” he said.