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What We Can Learn From The Biggest Extinction In The History Of Earth

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posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 06:34 AM
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Approximately 250 million years ago, vast numbers of species disappeared from Earth. This mass-extinction event may hold clues to current global carbon cycle changes, according to Jonathan Payne, assistant professor of geological and environmental sciences. Payne, a paleobiologist who joined the Stanford faculty in 2005, studies the Permian-Triassic extinction and the following 4 million years of instability in the global carbon cycle.


In the July issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin, Payne presented evidence that a massive, rapid release of carbon may have triggered this extinction.


Science daily full article

I found this article interesting, though it's a bit of a stretch to compare the extreme events they're talking about with the current state of the earth at this moment in time - it seems they're talking about a possible super-volcano eruption, a massive single event that radically changed the climate and chemical makeup of the air and oceans, and to compare that to the current situation is a bit more hypothesis than I'm willing to take, but all the same, it's a study worth keeping an eye on.




posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 09:05 AM
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Originally posted by InannamuteI found this article interesting, though it's a bit of a stretch to compare the extreme events they're talking about with the current state of the earth at this moment in time - it seems they're talking about a possible super-volcano eruption, a massive single event that radically changed the climate and chemical makeup of the air and oceans, and to compare that to the current situation is a bit more hypothesis than I'm willing to take, but all the same, it's a study worth keeping an eye on.


I actually know something about the subject, and I agree that it's quite a bit of a stretch.

One of the known components of the Permian Extinction (and a possible factor in the Cretaceous extinction of the dinosaurs) is the "traps" -- large areas of massive supervolcanic erruptions. In the Permian, it was the Siberain Traps and in the Cretaceous it was the Deccan Traps in India. The Deccan Traps weren't responsible for everything (after the asteroid hit the Earth, volcanos started going off in the region of the globe directly opposite the asteroid strike.) but they certainly contributed.

The Permian extinction layer has very distinctive red rocks... iron oxide, caused by iron rusting all over the world and tying up a lot of oxygen in the process.

However, both events weren't instant. They took place over 10,000 to 100,000 years or possibly up to several million years.

They will get data about the reefs, but they do need to remember to separate cause from effect. When working at a timeframe of 55-70 million years, they may not be able to get a very precise estimate of what happened when and which chicken came before which egg.

We'll see. You can bet that whatever they come up with, there'll be a nice academic quibble over it and a hundred other researchers hopping off to other places across the globe check their findings!



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 09:19 AM
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It's also been suggested that a massive release of methane hydrates from the ocean bed was responsible. Or even a meteorite impact.

Most likely, like with other extinction events, it was a combination of events - maybe a meteorite impact triggers the Siberian traps eruptions which released extra CO2 which warmed the oceans leading to the methane hydrate releases ..... and a slow but steady extinction over tens of thousands of years.



posted on Aug, 10 2007 @ 01:02 PM
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Originally posted by Inannamute
I found this article interesting, though it's a bit of a stretch to compare the extreme events they're talking about with the current state of the earth at this moment in time - it seems they're talking about a possible super-volcano eruption, a massive single event that radically changed the climate and chemical makeup of the air and oceans, and to compare that to the current situation is a bit more hypothesis than I'm willing to take, but all the same, it's a study worth keeping an eye on.


As Byrd said, that was the Siberian traps eruption. If you could assign a VEI number to it, it would be at about 10 or 11, 100 to 1,000 times as big as Yellowstone's biggest. Bigger even than Yellowstone's magma chamber, it's that big. I wonder if that was maybe an entire magma plume in one go, the Siberian Traps.

Asteroid impact, it would need to be big, like the one in the film Armageddon. Unfortunately for that theory, such a sized asteroid would have long been in a stable orbit or hit something before that.


Most likely, like with other extinction events, it was a combination of events - maybe a meteorite impact triggers the Siberian traps eruptions which released extra CO2 which warmed the oceans leading to the methane hydrate releases ..... and a slow but steady extinction over tens of thousands of years.


I'd have to agree with Essan on that one. I think the KT was from similar theorised, the Yucatan event followed by the Deccan traps.



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