Permian-Triassic mass extinction, new research


This 2017 video says about itself:

The Permian–Triassic extinction event, colloquially known as the Great Dying, the End Permian or the Great Permian Extinction, occurred about 252 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras.

It is the Earth’s most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. It is the only known mass extinction of insects. Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct.

Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event, possibly up to 10 million years, although studies in Bear Lake County near the Idaho city of Paris showed a quick and dynamic rebound in a marine ecosystem, illustrating the remarkable resiliency of life.

From the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the USA:

Geologists uncover new clues about largest mass extinction ever

August 27, 2018

A new study could help explain the driving force behind the largest mass extinction in the history of earth, known as the End-Permian Extinction.

The event, also known as the Great Dying, occurred around 250 million years ago when a massive volcanic eruption in what is today the Russian province of Siberia sent nearly 90 percent of all life right into extinction. Geologists call this eruption the Siberian Flood Basalts, and it ran for almost a million years.

“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”, said Michael Broadley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Petrographic and Geochemical Research in Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France, and lead author of the paper.

The work, which was published in Nature Geoscience, was co-authored by Lawrence (Larry) Taylor, the former director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Taylor, whose prolific career at UT spanned 46 years, passed away in September 2017 at age 79.

According to Broadley, “Taylor was instrumental in supplying samples of mantle xenoliths, rock sections of the lithosphere [a section of the planet located between the crust and the mantle] that get captured by the passing magma and erupted to the surface during the volcanic explosion. Taylor also provided advice throughout the study.”

Through the analysis of samples, Broadley and his team tried to determine the composition of the lithosphere. They found that before the Siberian Flood Basalts took place, the Siberian lithosphere was heavily loaded with chlorine, bromine, and iodine, all chemical elements from the halogen group. However, these elements seem to have disappeared after the volcanic eruption.

“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”, Broadley said.

Using the fossil record to accurately estimate the timing and pace of past mass extinctions is no easy task, and a new study highlights how fossil evidence can produce a misleading picture if not interpreted with care. Florida Museum of Natural History researchers used a series of 130-foot cores drilled from the Po Plain in northeastern Italy to test a thought experiment: Imagine catastrophe strikes the Adriatic Sea, swiftly wiping out modern marine life. Could this hypothetical mass extinction be reconstructed correctly from mollusks — hard-shelled animals such as oysters and mussels — preserved in these cores? Here.

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6 thoughts on “Permian-Triassic mass extinction, new research

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