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Volcanic Eruptions made Dinosaurs extinct

Summary

According to research, volcanic eruptions induced climate change, particularly those of the Deccan Traps in Western India, might have played a crucial role in the demise of dinosaurs around 65 million years ago. This suggests that the combination of volcanic activity and climate change, rather than a meteorite alone, contributed to the extinction event, offering a new perspective on the dinosaur extinction phenomenon.

Volcanic eruption of Deccan Traps & it’s Climate Impact on Dinosaur Extinction

A recent study, featured in Science Advances and co-authored by McGill University’s Professor Don Baker, challenges the conventional narrative of dinosaur extinction solely attributed to a meteorite impact. The research explores the significant role of climate change triggered by massive volcanic eruptions in the Deccan Traps, a vast plateau in Western India formed by molten lava. With eruptions expelling an immense one million cubic kilometres of rock, this study suggests that volcanic activity may have played a pivotal role in cooling the global climate approximately 65 million years ago. The comprehensive research journey involved fieldwork in the Deccan Traps and sample analysis in locations like England and Sweden.

Extinction of Dinosaur: The Role of Volcanic Winters

In a groundbreaking study, researchers, led by Prof. Don Baker from McGill University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, investigated the connection between massive volcanic eruptions and the extinction of dinosaurs. Contrary to the traditional narrative of a meteorite impact being the sole cause, the team explored the impact of volcanic activities in the Deccan Traps, Western India. These eruptions, unleashing an astonishing one million cubic kilometres of rock, potentially played a crucial role in inducing a global climate-cooling event known as a volcanic winter around 65 million years ago.

The scientists conducted extensive lab experiments to estimate the amount of sulfur and fluorine released into the atmosphere by the volcanic eruptions preceding the dinosaur extinction. Surprisingly, their findings suggest that the sulfur release might have initiated a worldwide temperature drop, causing repeated volcanic winters lasting for decades. This newfound understanding sheds light on the climatic instability that preceded the dinosaur extinction, making survival challenging for various species and paving the way for the rise of mammals and the evolution of our species.

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Unveiling Volcanic Secrets with a New Technique

Unearthing insights from ancient rocks presented a significant challenge, but a novel technique developed at McGill University proved instrumental in unravelling the volcanic past. This innovative method likened to the precision of cooking pasta, involves estimating sulfur and fluorine releases through a combination of chemistry and experiments.

Professor Don Baker, a co-author of the study, aptly describes the process, drawing parallels between salt concentrations in the pasta water and measuring trapped elements in cooling minerals post-volcanic eruption. This breakthrough enables scientists to calculate the quantities of sulfur and fluorine released during ancient volcanic events, providing a valuable tool for decoding Earth’s geological history.

Journal Link: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adg8284

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