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Huge and widespread volcanic eruptions triggered the end-Triassic extinction
Date:3/22/2013

entary rocks and then tested those estimates against high-precision dates from 200-million-year-old rocks in North America and Morocco.

The researchers broke rock samples apart to isolate tiny crystals known as zircons, which they then analyzed to determine the ratio of uranium to lead. The painstaking technique enabled the team to date the rocks to within approximately 30,000 years an incredibly precise measurement in geologic terms.

Taken together, the geochronology and astrochronology techniques gave the team precise estimates for the onset of volcanism 200 million years ago, and revealed three bursts of magmatic activity over 40,000 years an exceptionally short period of time during which massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other gas emissions may have drastically altered Earth's climate, killing off thousands of plant and animal species.

While the team's evidence is the strongest thus far to link volcanic activity with the end-Triassic extinction, Bowring says more work can be done.

"The CAMP province extends from Nova Scotia all the way down to Brazil and West Africa," Bowring says. "I'm dying to know whether those are exactly the same age or not. We don't know."


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Contact: Sarah McDonnell
s_mcd@mit.edu
617-253-8923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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