Feeds

Volcanic activity did for the dinosaurs

Asteroid simply the last straw, study suggests

The Power of One Infographic

The dinosaurs might have been wiped out by a huge volcanic eruption, a new study suggests, rather than an asteroid strike 65m years ago, as is widely believed.

The possibility of a volcanic catastrophe being behind the fall of the great reptiles has long been mooted: the Deccan Traps in India are evidence of a series of huge volcanic eruptions that have been dated to around 65m years ago, the same time as the dinosaurs vanished from the Earth.

The eruptions would have sent massive quantities of ash and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, enough to have a significant impact on the climate, and possibly doom the terrible lizards.

However, until now, the eruptions were thought to have taken place sporadically, over the course of several million years. This would have given the environment and climate plenty of time to adjust, and has always made the asteroid strike the more likely candidate for the dinosaurs' sudden extinction.

The new study, conducted by scientists at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, suggests that much of the volcanic activity too place within a relatively short period of time - perhaps as little as 30,000 years, The Independent reports.

by studying the magnetisation of the lava, the researchers are able to estimate how the time period over which it solidified. They discovered that in 30,000 years a 660m thick layer of lava was deposited. This would have been accompanied by enough sulphur dioxide to alter the climate, and to alter the PH of the seas.

The arrival of the asteroid 65m years ago was just the icing on the cake.

"Paleontologists say the decline in the dinosaurs began long before the Chicxulub impact. We would argue that they were being poisoned due to the Deccan Traps," Dr. Mike Widdowson, a volcanologist from the Open University in Milton Keynes, told the paper. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.