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Scientists unlock secrets of the Great Dying

Posted on Tuesday, 28 August, 2018 | Comment icon 5 comments

The event was undeniably devastating to life on our planet. Image Credit: J.D. Griggs / USGS
A new study has determined how a volcanic eruption 205 million years ago wiped out 90 percent of all life on Earth.
Known as the End-Permian Extinction, this apocalyptic event, which was triggered by a vast volcanic eruption in what is now Siberia, was so devastating that it almost wiped out all life on Earth.

"The scale of this extinction was so incredible that scientists have often wondered what made the Siberian Flood Basalts so much more deadly than other similar eruptions," said study lead author Michael Broadley of the Center for Petrographic and Geochemical Research in France.

To find the answer, researchers analyzed samples of different types of rocks in order to determine the composition of the lithosphere, a region which lies between the Earth's crust and the mantle.

They determined that before the eruption, the lithosphere was filled with chlorine, bromine and iodine, but that after the eruption these elements seemed to have all but disappeared.

"We concluded that the large reservoir of halogens that was stored in the Siberian lithosphere was sent into the earth's atmosphere during the volcanic explosion, effectively destroying the ozone layer at the time and contributing to the mass extinction," said Broadley.

Source: | Comments (5)

Tags: Great Dying, Extinction

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pallidin on 28 August, 2018, 16:11
Wow. I had no idea.
Comment icon #2 Posted by fred_mc on 28 August, 2018, 16:40
Yes, or perhaps there was an advanced civilization at the time who mined all the halogens, and had application areas for them that released them into the air. Not as likely as a volcano but a more interesting theory ;-) .  
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer on 28 August, 2018, 19:21
Depending how much of these halogens were in the air, the civilization to support your theory wouldn't be human as we know it. So the Earth lost its ozone layer, but it came back.  I wonder if the next study is going to determine how this happened.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Setton on 28 August, 2018, 20:43
Or a volcanic eruption. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Socks Junior on 29 August, 2018, 17:45
The Permian ended 252 million years ago. You could even say 251.902 ± 0.024 million years ago if you're feeling really sparky, like the International Commission on Stratigraphy.  They love putting "golden spikes" in.

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