The reason behind the extinction of Dinosaurs continues to remain a mystery, but a recent study has examined if intense volcanism that erupted in the Deccan Traps in India was one of the contributing factors.
The multi-institutional research team led by scientists from The Graduate Center, City University New York (CUNY) has analyzed the amount and timing of carbon dioxide released, which was one of the main gases that was part of the Deccan Traps, to further determine the role that volcanism played in climate shifts around the time of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal expands on the new findings about this event that occurred 66 million years ago. Researchers have debated whether gas emissions from volcanic eruptions from the Deccan Traps or the impact of a large asteroid is most responsible for causing the climate changes that triggered the extinction of dinosaurs. However, to establish a sense of certainty on this matter scientists always lacked the data on carbon dioxide released from Deccan magmas from this time.
But through this latest research scientists have filled that knowledge gap. Andres Hernandez Nava, a Ph.D. student in The Graduate Center, CUNY’s Earth and Environmental Science program and first author of the study told in a press statement that his team analyzed Deccan Traps carbon dioxide budgets that coincided with the warming event, and they found that carbon outgassing from lava volumes alone could not have caused that level of global warming that caused unbearable conditions for dinosaurs. However, Andres mentioned that when the research team factored in the outgassing from magmas that froze beneath the surface rather than erupting, they found that the Deccan Traps could have released enough carbon dioxide to explain the ancient global warming event.
As the team further analysed this data, they found that the carbon dioxide outgassing from Deccan Traps magmas can explain a warming of Earth’s global temperatures by almost three degrees Celsius during the early phases of Deccan volcanism. However, that was not nearly that much warming by the time dinosaurs reached the mass extinction event. Hence the study supports the idea that later Deccan magmas were not releasing that much CO2 and that intense volcanism was not a major cause of the most recent mass extinction.