Key to Mass Extinctions

Not by Fire but by Ice


 Updated 3 September 2005      


Key to mass extinctions beneath the sea?  

–– 25 August 2005 - "Scientists in drill ships are studying colossal slabs of volcanic lava under the sea that shaped its climate, helped determine its life forms and record Earth's violent past. They think their research can help explain what's
happening to our warming world today.

""The extent of some of these buried lava flows is mind-boggling. Fragments
left by a series of eruptions 200 million years ago in what's now the Atlantic
Ocean stretch across four continents, in places ranging from New England
to France and from the Amazon to West Africa.

""Along with somewhat smaller volcanic eruptions on dry land, these belches
from the planet's fiery interior contributed to a series of mass extinctions

"The rapid release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, happening today,
appears to have happened in the past, too," Paul Wignall, an earth scientist
at the University of Leeds in England, said in an e-mail. "In many ways, these
rapid and giant eruptions seem to replicate the effects of fossil fuel burning,
and so have provided natural experiments closely similar to human activity.

"The consequence of rapid warming of oceans and atmospheres appears
to be mass extinction." (That’s what I’ve been saying for years …that underwater volcanism (not humans) heats the seas. The resultant 
increase in evaporation - and thence precipitation - inevitably leads 
to an ice age. I think that is what is happening today.

""A mile-and-a-half-thick layer of lava, known as the Deccan Traps, flowed across a large part of India 65 million years ago. Its toxic emissions probably
weakened the dinosaurs before the impact of a huge meteor finished them off,
French scientists reported in the Aug. 12 edition of the journal Science. 
(A large portion of the
Deccan Traps eruption occurred underwater [from paleontologist Dewey McLean], thus heating the oceans by 14 to 22 degrees. That's what killed the dinosaurs - ocean warming.

""Although geologists have long known about the lava provinces, for decades,
a new one was reported in July under a large area of western Australia.

What is Lava?

""Lava is a common type of rock that's been melted by temperatures as high as
2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It rises from a 400-mile-thick layer of hot, gooey
material known as magma that lies between the planet's crust and its solid core,
and flows out from a volcano or a crack in the Earth's surface.

""The vast expanses of sea-floor lava are called Large Igneous Provinces.""

This came from ""Global warming’’s key under the sea?"" by Robert S. Boyd,
of Knight Ridder.

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