Academic journal article Science Scope

Asteroid Impact and Volcanism Led to Mass Extinction

Academic journal article Science Scope

Asteroid Impact and Volcanism Led to Mass Extinction

Article excerpt

Geologists have recently discovered evidence that two global events led to the last mass extinction. Sixtysix million years ago, an asteroid impact on Earth accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes in India for hundreds of thousands of years, causing the extinction of dinosaurs and many land and marine animals.

Both the impact and the volcanism would have blanketed the planet with dust and noxious fumes, drastically changing the climate and sending many species to an early grave. For 35 years, paleontologists and geologists have debated the role these two global events played in the mass extinction, with one side claiming the eruptions were irrelevant and the other side claiming the impact was a blip in a long-term die-off.

The new evidence includes the most accurate dates yet for the volcanic eruptions before and after the impact. The new dates show that the Deccan Traps lava flows, which at the time were erupting at a slower pace, doubled in output within 50,000 years of the asteroid or comet impact that is thought to have initiated the last mass extinction. …

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