Navigation Links
Earth's massive extinction: The story gets worse
Date:1/5/2012

Scientists have uncovered a lot about the Earth's greatest extinction event that took place 250 million years ago when rapid climate change wiped out nearly all marine species and a majority of those on land. Now, they have discovered a new culprit likely involved in the annihilation: an influx of mercury into the eco-system.

"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," says Dr. Steve Grasby, co-author of a paper published this month in the journal Geology. "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." Grasby is a research scientist at Natural Resources Canada and an adjunct professor at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Benoit Beauchamp, professor of geology at the University of Calgary, says this study is significant because it's the first time mercury has been linked to the cause of the massive extinction that took place during the end of the Permian.

"Geologists, including myself should be taking notes and taking another look at the other five big extinction events," says Beauchamp, also a co-author.

During the late Permian, the natural buffering system in the ocean became overloaded with mercury contributing to the loss of 95 per cent of life in the sea.

"Typically, algae acts like a scavenger and buries the mercury in the sediment, mitigating the effect in the oceans," says lead-author Dr. Hamed Sanei, research scientist at Natural Resources Canada and adjunct professor at the University of Calgary. "But in this case, the load was just so huge that it could not stop the damage."

About 250 million years ago, a time long before dinosaurs ruled and when all land formed one big continent, the majority of life in the ocean and on land was wiped out. The generally accepted idea is that volcanic eruptions burned though coal beds, releasing CO2 and other deadly toxins. Direct proof of this theory was outlined in a paper that was published by these same authors last January in Nature Geoscience.

The mercury deposition rates could have been significantly higher in the late Permian when compared with today's human-caused emissions. In some cases, levels of mercury in the late Permian ocean was similar to what is found near highly contaminated ponds near smelters, where the aquatic system is severely damaged, say researchers.

"We are adding to the levels through industrial emissions. This is a warning for us here on Earth today," adds Beauchamp. Canada has taken a lead role in reducing emissions internationally. In North America, at least, there has been a steady decline through regulations controlling mercury.

No matter what happens, this study shows life's tenacity. "The story is one of recovery as well. After the system was overloaded and most of life was destroyed, the oceans were still able to self clean and we were able to move on to the next phase of life," says Sanei.


'/>"/>

Contact: Leanne Yohemas
lmyohema@ucalgary.ca
403-540-6552
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. International team to drill beneath massive Antarctic ice shelf
2. Trillions served: Massive, complex projects for DOE JGI 2012 Community Sequencing Program
3. Climate change causing massive movement of tree species across the West
4. Scientists report dramatic carbon loss from massive Arctic wildfire
5. Loss of top animal predators has massive ecological effects
6. Invasive mussels causing massive ecological changes in Great Lakes
7. Cephalopods experience massive acoustic trauma from noise pollution in the oceans
8. Study finds massive flux of gas, in addition to liquid oil, at BP well blowout in Gulf
9. Massive Daphnia genome leads to understanding gene-environment interactions
10. Massive endocytosis in cells
11. Massive gene loss linked to pathogens stealthy plant-dependent lifestyle
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Earth's massive extinction: The story gets worse
(Date:3/30/2017)... March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com ... Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... will focus on developing health and wellness apps that ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon for ... world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and health ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... March 29, 2017  higi, the health IT company ... North America , today announced a Series ... acquisition of EveryMove. The new investment and acquisition accelerates ... tools to transform population health activities through the collection ... higi collects and secures data today on ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... 2017 The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives ... Algeen have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most ... Reading ... Maldives ... Abdulla Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/21/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 21, 2017 , ... ... Healthcare Edition 2017. The awards recognize medical centers that have implemented innovative products, ... efficiency of patient care protocols, competitive advantages, financial impact/value, and market need. The ...
(Date:8/21/2017)... ... August 21, 2017 , ... Boston Strategic ... experience with Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) and ‘big data’ to provide ... US healthcare spending exceeded $3.0 trillion with nearly 1/3 spent on hospitalizations. BSP ...
(Date:8/21/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 21, 2017 , ... Today Aether ... a project, funded by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, to ... Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also known as the Gates Foundation, is said to ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... Jose, CA (PRWEB) , ... August 18, 2017 ... ... advanced precision Lithography Equipment for the Semiconductor, MEMS, and Microfluidics Industries, announces the ... features and specifications found more often in automated production mask aligners. OAI has ...
Breaking Biology Technology: