What Caused The Largest Mass Extinction Event 250 Million Years Ago?

Posted: Aug 29 2018, 9:35am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 29 2018, 9:40am CDT, in Latest Science News


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What Caused the Largest Mass Extinction Event 250 Million Years Ago?
A sample of mantle xenolith, rock sections of the lithosphere. Credit: Michael W. Broadley.

A latest study uncovers new clues about the End-Permian Extinction or Great Dying.

The End-Permian Extinction that occurred approximately 250 million years ago was the most devastating mass extinction in the history of the world. The event wiped out more than 90 percent of all life on Earth but many aspects of that mass extinction are still a mystery.

Researchers have already known that the mass extinction event was triggered by a massive volcanic eruption that led to significant changes in the environment. But they have argued for decades over what may have made this mass extinction so disastrous. A new study is helping to unravel this mystery.

“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.” Lead author Michael Broadley from the Center for Petrographic and Geochemical Research in France said in a statement.

To get a better understanding of the mass extinction event, researchers analyzed mantle xenoliths, rock sections of the lithosphere that are brought to the surface by the volcanic eruption. The composition of these fragments suggested that the Siberian lithosphere was heavily loaded with chlorine, bromine, and iodine or all chemical elements from the halogen group before the eruption. However, these elements seem to have disappeared after the volcanic activity, lending support to the theory that ozone depletion contributed to the devastating event.

The volcanic eruption released huge quantities of halogen chemical elements into the atmosphere that rapidly altered the climate and caused the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event. Previous studies have also suggested the volcanic activity could have temporarily wiped out the ozone layer worldwide and set off a chain reaction like global warming, acid rain and loss of oxygen. Because of that, around 96% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial species became extinct.

"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.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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