Supervolcanoes helped seal dinosaurs' fate
By T.K. Randall
October 2, 2015 · 4 comments
The dinosaurs didn't stand a chance. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 David Monniaux
The asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs might have also produced intense volcanic activity.
The disappearance of the dinosaurs remains one of the most talked about mysteries in science - did these giant reptiles die out because of an impact from space or were they wiped out by a period of intense volcanism that blanketed out the skies in clouds of ash and dust ?
The answer, as it turns out, might actually be both of these things at the same time.
Scientists investigating a region of supervolcanoes in India known as the Deccan Traps have found that volcanic activity in the region doubled in intensity within a relatively short space of time following the asteroid impact believed to be responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs.
"Based on our dating of the lavas we can be pretty certain that the volcanism and the impact occurred within 50,000 years of the extinction, so it becomes somewhat artificial to distinguish between them as killing mechanisms," said Paul Renne of the University of California.
"Both phenomena were clearly at work at the same time. It is going to be basically impossible to ascribe actual atmospheric effects to one or the other."
Having been subjected to two simultaneous cataclysms it is little wonder that the dinosaurs didn't survive - their fate would have been sealed the moment the asteroid struck.
"The scenario we are suggesting - that the impact triggered the volcanism - does in fact reconcile what had previously appeared to be an unimaginable coincidence," said Professor Mark Richards.
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