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New Dinosaur Extinction Theory – Blame the Deccan Trappes
New fingerprint study points to Dean’s Traps for extinction event
TheIn 1980, American scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez published their theory about an extraterrestrial body impacting Earth, causing the mass extinction event that marked the end of the Reptilian Age. The discovery of the Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico, “smoking gun” Evidence in the 1990s added credence to this theory put forward by the father and son team.
Recent studies of the asteroid belt that stretches between Mars and the outer planets have led a group of scientists to conclude that the fate of the dinosaurs was sealed back in the Jurassic when a collision between large asteroids sent a large chunk of space rock on a collision course. . with the Earth.
New evidence from scientific research
Now a second team of American scientists have challenged the asteroid/meteor theory and proposed that massive volcanic eruptions in India led to the death of the dinosaurs and about 65% of all life on Earth. New studies of the large basaltic lava flows of western and central India – known as the Deccan Traps – show that the most violent and destructive eruptions date very close to the mass extinction event.
Volcanic activity on this scale would have released huge volumes of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, dramatically changing the world’s climate and leading to the collapse of entire ecosystems.
The Deccan Traps is one of the largest volcanic provinces on the planet. The basaltic lava flows that occurred around 70-65 million years ago cover an area of over 500,000 square kilometres, which is twice the size of the entire United Kingdom. In parts, the basalt is over 2 kilometers deep. Plate movements and other tectonic factors have destroyed the lava deposits, some scientists estimate that volcanic activity in the late Cretaceous deposited enough lava to cover 1,500,000 square kilometers – that would have covered half of India.
It has long been recognized that these large explosions would have a devastating effect on Earth’s climate. In addition to the damage caused by the explosions themselves, the smoke and ash clouds would have been huge and would have disrupted the climate. Sulfur dioxide pumped into the air would have led to acid rain, and carbon dioxide and other gases, as well as being toxic to life, would have led to global warming. This new study by the US team dates the most massive volcanic activity right across the KT border and as a result the research team has published a paper claiming that it was these eruptions and not the asteroid impact that led to the extinction.
The main period of eruptions has been chronologically linked to the predicted date for the start of the extinction phase, during which geologists estimate that ten times more climate-changing gases would have been released compared to the Chicxulub impact event. So it was probably the volcanic activity that did for the Earth’s climate, although the major extraterrestrial influence couldn’t have come at a worse time and would have added to the environmental chaos. As indeed with other impacts (some scientists believe there were two such impacts, only 300,000 years apart, very close together in geological time – a true double whammy.
Previous dating techniques involved paleomagnetic signatures of crystals formed in the lava as it cooled. These indicated that the main eruptions occurred about 800,000 years before the geological boundary between the end of the Mesozoic and the beginning of the Cenozoic. More recent studies measuring the radioactive decay of argon and potassium isotopes in lava deposits placed the greatest period of volcanic activity within 300,000 years of the KT boundary. However, it is evidence from tiny marine micro-fossils that American researchers believe proves that volcanic activity is a direct cause of the mass extinction.
Responsible for the mass extinction event
Scientists are convinced that shortly after the mass extinction event, one of the first signs of ecosystems beginning to recover was the creation of new species of planktonic foraminifera (similar to the animals that helped form the White Cliffs of Dover). Analysis of deposits in the Bay of Bengal region of the Deccan Traps has shown that marine sediments were deposited on top of basaltic lava from the most active phase of Trap formation. In these marine deposits, evidence of foraminifera micro-fossils has been found, indicating that these marine deposits were laid down almost immediately after the extinction event. It is therefore logical to conclude that the lava deposits immediately preceding the marine sediments must have been laid down at the time of the death of the dinosaurs and the extinction of most life.
The American team’s work has already received support from a number of prominent academics from Europe. It was previously presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of Denver and has received extensive reviews and comments. The sheer magnitude of volcanic activity certainly played a role in climate change, but this micro-fossil study places the worst eruptions immediately before the mass extinction, as if these eruptions triggered the extinction event.
The American team cited a number of other studies that support their conclusions and say their work sheds light on an anomaly that proponents of the Chicxulub impact theory have been unable to resolve. Analysis of other sites around the world along the KT boundary and from sediments deposited thousands of years after the extraterrestrial impact show that life on Earth was too slow to recover. Micro-fossils do not enter the fossil record for another 300,000 years after the asteroid/meteor impact. The fact that the marine environment shows no signs of recovery for about 300,000 years after the impact can be explained by looking at the lava deposits on top of the marine deposits in the Bay of Bengal. These newer lava deposits were ejected after the mass extinction event, but still caused enough disruption to delay the recovery of life on Earth. According to American researchers, the last period of explosions of the Deccan Trap occurred in the early Paleocene (the phase of the Danish fauna) about 280,000 years after the end of the Mesozoic. It was these eruptions that caused the delay in the recovery of life forms and the building of ecosystems.
Evidence from the fossil record
The fossil record shows that there have been a number of mass extinction events in the history of life on Earth. It is certain that the KT boundary represents a period of dramatic environmental change. The dual effect of the formation of the Deccan Traps coupled with asteroid impacts would explain the mass extinction, the death of non-avian dinosaurs, marine reptiles, pterosaurs, certain birds, ancient crocodiles and many types of invertebrates may be due to a number of factors. This is not in doubt, what remains controversial is the contribution to the mass extinction of each of these factors.
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