Title

Volcanism as a Driving Force for Mass Extinction Events

Date

5-29-2014 2:10 PM

End Time

29-5-2014 2:30 PM

Location

Health and Wellness Center (HWC) 105

Department

Earth Science

Session Chair

Jeffrey Templeton

Session Title

“Eruptions that Shook the World” – Examining the Influence of Volcanism on the Earth System

Faculty Sponsor(s)

Dr. Jeffrey Templeton

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Mass extinctions periodically decimate life on Earth, such as the well-known event 65.5 million years ago that wiped out nearly all of the dinosaurs. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain mass extinction events, including bolide impacts, rapidly transmitted viruses, climate change, volcanic activity driven by mantle plumes, or combinations of some or all the above. Over the last century scientists have unearthed ancient lava flows, some covering 2,000,000 km2. Almost every major disappearance of life from the fossil record coincides with massive eruptions of lava flows in the form of large igneous provinces. Four of the five largest extinction events in the last 450 million years correspond to well-dated large igneous provinces within 1 million years of the respective extinction event. Most notably, the eruption of the Siberian traps directly predates the largest known extinction event, which resulted in the destruction of over 95% of Earth’s flora and fauna about 250 million year old. Similarly, the 65.5 million year old Deccan traps in India directly predate the dinosaur extinction. It seems like Earths greatest destructive power is not from outer space but from within the mantle. Inevitably, if history repeats, will humans be the next mass extinction on the magma cutting block?

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 29th, 2:10 PM May 29th, 2:30 PM

Volcanism as a Driving Force for Mass Extinction Events

Health and Wellness Center (HWC) 105

Mass extinctions periodically decimate life on Earth, such as the well-known event 65.5 million years ago that wiped out nearly all of the dinosaurs. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain mass extinction events, including bolide impacts, rapidly transmitted viruses, climate change, volcanic activity driven by mantle plumes, or combinations of some or all the above. Over the last century scientists have unearthed ancient lava flows, some covering 2,000,000 km2. Almost every major disappearance of life from the fossil record coincides with massive eruptions of lava flows in the form of large igneous provinces. Four of the five largest extinction events in the last 450 million years correspond to well-dated large igneous provinces within 1 million years of the respective extinction event. Most notably, the eruption of the Siberian traps directly predates the largest known extinction event, which resulted in the destruction of over 95% of Earth’s flora and fauna about 250 million year old. Similarly, the 65.5 million year old Deccan traps in India directly predate the dinosaur extinction. It seems like Earths greatest destructive power is not from outer space but from within the mantle. Inevitably, if history repeats, will humans be the next mass extinction on the magma cutting block?