Gassy volcanoes tied to mass extinction | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News

Gassy volcanoes tied to mass extinction

Chemicals from Siberian eruption may have triggered history's greatest catastrophe

By
4:39pm, December 14, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — The greatest extinction in the history of life may have been caused, in part, by ozone-depleting gases spewed in a massive volcanic eruption, a new study suggests. Geologists have found surprisingly high amounts of the elements fluorine and chlorine in Siberian lavas dating back 250 million years — when about 90 percent of marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial species went extinct.

Benjamin Black, a graduate student at MIT, and his colleagues described their theory December 13 in a poster presentation at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Researchers have long struggled to explain the “Great Dying” that occurred at the end of the Permian period. Some think that the extinction was a long, drawn-out affair caused by multiple factors — perhaps gradual changes in oceanic or atmospheric chemistry (SN: 5/28/05, p. 339). Others have blamed a single catastrophic event such as a

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content