Australia`s ancient volcanic eruptions caused first mass extinction 510mn yrs ago

Last Updated: Sunday, June 1, 2014 - 10:30

Washington: A Curtin University researcher has revealed that Australia`s deadly eruptions, which occurred over 510 million years ago, were the significant reason behind the climate change that caused history`s first known mass extinction.

Fred Jourdan from Curtin`s Department of Applied Geology used the radioactive dating techniques to precisely measure the age of the eruptions of the Kalkarindji volcanic province where lavas covered an area of more than 2 million square kilometers in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Dr. Jourdan said that they were able to demonstrate that the Kalkarindji volcanic province was emplaced at the exact same time as the Cambrian extinction and they were also able to measure a depletion of sulphur dioxide from the province`s volcanic rocks which indicates sulphur was released into the atmosphere during the eruptions.

He further explained that the rapid fluctuation in the climate produced by volcanic eruptions made it difficult for various species to adapt, ultimately resulting in their demise, he added.
The knowledge of how the climate, oceans and ecosystems were affected in the past will help in understanding the long-term climatic and biological effects of the massive injections of gas in the atmosphere by modern society.

The study was published in the journal Geology.


First Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 17:00

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