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New study suggests mercury from firestorm of volcanic eruptions caused past extinction

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posted on Jan, 7 2012 @ 06:23 PM
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Mass extinctions during catastrophic climate change were caused by huge mercury levels, Canadian scientists say. The Earth’s greatest global loss of life, around 250 million years ago, wiped out almost all marine creatures and most land-dwellers. Now, researchers at the University of Calgary have published a paper in the Geology journal, which blames massive mercury levels from volcanic eruptions, 30 times greater than those seen today. Co-author, Dr. Steve Grasby, an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary and a research scientist at Natural Resources Canada, says, “No one had ever looked to see if mercury was a potential culprit. This was a time of the greatest volcanic activity in Earth’s history and we know today that the largest source of mercury comes from volcanic eruptions. We estimate that the mercury released then could have been up to 30 times greater than today’s volcanic activity, making the event truly catastrophic.” This is the first study to blame mercury for the Permian extinctions, says co-author and University of Calgary Geology Professor, Dr. Benoit Beauchamp. “Geologists, including myself should be taking notes and taking another look at the other five big extinction events.” The loss of marine life occurred after the oceans were contaminated by the mercury, explains Dr. Hamed Sanei, adjunct professor at the University of Calgary and research scientist at Natural Resources Canada. “Typically, algae acts like a scavenger and buries the mercury in the sediment, mitigating the effect in the oceans. But in this case, the load was just so huge that it could not stop the damage.” In the Permian period, the land was a single continent. It is commonly thought that the eruptions from the volcanoes released carbon dioxide and other deadly poisons after penetrating coal seams. The Calgary University team provided evidence for this in a paper previously published in the Nature Geoscience journa


Four main characteristics of the Permian-Triassic Extinction were hyper-volcanism, abrupt climate change, changes in ocean salinity which altered the physics of ocean current circulation, and a geomagnetic reversal. Is history about to repeat itself?

I have always wondered if a volcano alone were enough to have caused past extinction level events, but this article makes alot of sense with the mercury aspect of it. My question is, why would the levels of mercury released be 30 times greater than now? At any rate, a good theory to add to the heap anyway

ETA: Sorry, I almost forgot the link:
theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com...

edit on 7-1-2012 by AllUrChips because: (no reason given)

edit on 7-1-2012 by AllUrChips because: (no reason given)



edit on 1/8/2012 by 12m8keall2c because: fixed bbcode




posted on Jan, 8 2012 @ 03:17 AM
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Thanks for posting this OP! I am currently reading a book that hits upon many different subjects and the Permian extinction was one of the topics that was covered. The planet lost around 95% of the animal population during that time and it was apparently the biggest of the extinctions. But, science is (was?) at a loss to understand why.

Several ideas are shared as to why major and minor extinctions have occurred and volcanic eruptions are listed but toxic chemicals from eruptions isn't mentioned. The emphasis is more on the load of ash released into the atmosphere. Organic mercury compounds are extremely toxic and it rather does make sense that creatures eating other creatures contaminated with mercury could lead to a huge die off of sea fauna and insects. If an initial volcanic eruption and the harsh environment that followed didn't kill the life form (the sea creatures and burrowing creatures did have an advantage) then the contaminated food supply might have.

Thanks for the link!



posted on Jan, 8 2012 @ 06:32 AM
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It is commonly thought that the eruptions from the volcanoes released carbon dioxide and other deadly poisons after penetrating coal seams

what if coal seam 'fracking' hits a pocket and releases deadly poisons?
deliberately playing with fire?



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