by Brooks Hays
Los Angeles (UPI) Apr 15, 2016
A new study details the tremendous effects a massive volcanic eruption can have on Earth's climate.
Scientists say their findings are proof that a series of dramatic eruptions snuffed out nearly all of life on Earth roughly 200 million years ago. The research also suggests that prehistoric eruptions can serve as ideal models for measuring the effects of rising CO2 concentrations on the ecosystem.
Using the levels of a unique mercury isotope in prehistoric rock samples, researchers at the University of Southern California were able to plot the escalation of volcanic activity 200 million years ago.
Their plot correlates neatly with the rise in extinctions revealed by the fossil record. As mercury levels in the ancient rocks rise, so do the number of disappearing species.
Researchers believe the disruptive volcanism was triggered by the pulling apart of the supercontinent Pangea, and that the offending magmic system was the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, or CAMP. CAMP was located in the middle of Pangea, in the spot where the Atlantic Ocean would settle as the supercontinent broke apart.
Though CAMP spewed massive amounts of lava, researchers believe it was the release of CO2 that ultimately spelled doom for some 80 percent of life on Earth.
"By some estimates, it rose nearly as rapidly as we're putting CO2 into the atmosphere today," Frank Corsetti, a geobiologist at USC, said in a news release.
"We wanted to see how the Earth system responded from a rapid rise of CO2," Corsetti continued. "The spoiler alert is there was a mass extinction. What we've been able to do is use this mercury as a fingerprint to tie the event to the volcanoes, and therefore the emissions."
Corsetti and his colleagues say the Triassic-Jurassic extinction is especially relevant today, as the animals most affected then are most similar to modern species.
The new research was published this week in the journal Nature Communications.
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|