Earth and Planetary Science
EPS Geophysics

Asteroid or volcano's? Apportioning blame for the dinosaur extinction

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Professors Paul Renne and Stephen Self with PhD students Courtney Sprain and Tushar Mittal published new data in the journal Science, suggesting it is increasingly likely that an asteroid or comet impact 66 million years ago reignited massive volcanic eruptions in India, half a world away from the impact site in the Caribbean Sea. Late Cretaceous records of environmental change suggest that Deccan Traps (DT) volcanism contributed to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (KPB) ecosystem crisis. However, testing this hypothesis requires identification of the KPB in the DT. They constrain the location of the KPB with high-precision argon-40/argon-39 data to be coincident with changes in the magmatic plumbing system. They also found that the DT did not erupt in three discrete large pulses and that >90% of DT volume erupted in <1 million years, with ~75% emplaced post-KPB. Late Cretaceous records of climate change coincide temporally with the eruption of the smallest DT phases, suggesting that either the release of climate-modifying gases is not directly related to eruptive volume or DT volcanism was not the source of Late Cretaceous climate change.

 

Read the article in Science

Read the Berkely News Article