Deccan Traps

Not by Fire but by Ice


 Updated 14 August 2005      

New discovery shows that volcanic activity may have killed the dinosaurs 

Quarry near Pune. (Courtesy of Anne-Lise Chenet/IPGP)

10 Aug 2005 - Geologists have identified a third-of-a-mile (600- meter) thick portion of the Deccan Traps in India (a huge lava flow) that may have piled up fast enough to have caused a deadly global climate shift.

"Our working hypothesis is that the majority of the total volume of lava might have been erupted in only a few major events spread over only a small fraction of millennia," said Anne-Lise Chenet of the Laboratoire de Paleomagnetisme, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP).

“Most mass extinctions over the past 300 million years have coincided with large volcanic events, said Chenet. The general rule is that massive volcanism like the Deccan Traps correlates with all major mass extinctions in Earth's history.

The Deccan Traps, one of the Earth’s largest lava flows ever, are a huge pile of basaltic lava extending over more than 500,000 square kilometers. Its original volume likely exceeded 2 to 3 million cubic kilometers, says Chenet.

Put this amount of above-water volcanism together with massive amounts of underwater volcanism, and you have a killer. 

As I say in Not by Fire but by Ice, “cooler skies and warmer seas, a deadly combination.”


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