Clues to dinosaur extinction may lie in Indian region formed due to volcanic eruption

March 21st, 2008 - 1:16 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 21 (ANI): A new research in the Deccan Traps in India, a region formed due to volcanic eruptions in the past, might provide clues to solving the mystery behind mass extinction of the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period.

According to a report in New Scientist, the biggest volcanic eruptions are called flood events, which release millions of cubic kilometres of lava and all the gases trapped within it.

One of the main theories about mass extinctions is that such flood events could have pumped sulphur and chlorine into the atmosphere, killing off anything nearby.

“But it’s not just poisoning by the pollutants,” said Stephen Blake of the Open University in the UK. “There can be a whole lot of knock-on effects to the environment,” he added.

However, geologists havent been sure that enough of the gases were released to effect large-scale climate change, and thus contribute to extinctions.

To investigate that, Blake and his colleagues scoured the Deccan Traps, a region in India that was formed by a flood event about 65 million years ago. They were looking for rare nuggets called glass inclusions.

Because they form at high pressures beneath the surface, these inclusions hold a record of the gases in the magma before eruption.

The team analysed the inclusions’ composition and estimated that at least 10 million million tonnes of sulphur and chlorine were pumped into the atmosphere at the time of the flood event.

This estimate is more than enough to attribute the cause of mass extinctions to the volcanic activity.

“This much sulphur strengthens the case for volcanism to do lots of environmental damage,” said Blake. (ANI)

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