Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A catastrophic coincidence - scientists discover second ever example of contemporaneous meteorite impact and flood volcanism

Scientists have discovered only the second example of a meteorite impact that occurred at the same time as massive volcanic activity, in research published in the Journal of the Geological Society this week (12th Jan).

The first time such a coincidence was observed, at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, was the catastrophic event thought to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.

This new event, uncovered after the 17 km diameter Logoisk impact structure in Belarus was precisely dated, is thought to have taken place around 30 million years ago. The crater was dated using argon isotopes, and found to have occurred at a similar time to a period of massive volcanism known as the Afro-Arabian flood volcanism, which started in NW Yemen at around 30.9 Mya, and SW Yemen at around 29.0 Mya.

The impact also coincides broadly with a period of sudden global cooling and sea level fluctuation. The researchers, led by Sarah Sherlock at the Open University, argue that massive volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts are likely to have coincided much more frequently than has previously been thought, but because the preservation of impact craters on Earth is poor much of the evidence for these coincidences is lost.

The relationships between meteorite impact craters, volcanism and changes in climate is a subject of much debate among scientists. Prior to the study, only one example of an impact coinciding with volcanism had been found: the Chicxulub and Boltysh impacts and the Deccan Traps flood volcanism, all of which occurred at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. In 2002, the discovery of their coincidence with a global mass extinction led to debate over the causative links between meteorite impacts, volcanism and mass extinction events, and fuelled the search for more impacts at stratigraphic boundaries.

Unlike the Cretaceous-Tertiary event, the combination of the Logoisk impact and the Afro-Arabain flood volcanism does not seem to have caused an extinction event. The researchers suggest that the reason for this may be that the magnitude of the event was not sufficiently large in comparison. Whilst the Chicxulub crater associated with the extinction of the dinosaurs measures 170km in diameter and the Deccan Traps released around (2-4) x106 km3 of lava, in comparison the Logoisk impact structure measures 17km across and the Afro-Arabian flood volcanism is around 1.2 x106 km3 in volume.

As a result, the effects of each event were likely to have been very different. At the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, it is thought that one of the deadly effects was the release of sulphur dioxide, either as acid rain or in the stratosphere, where it would have prevented heat from reaching the earth and caused massive global cooling. Around 8000 billion tons of SO2 are thought to have been released by the volcanism and meteorite impact. In comparison, the Logoisk impact and the Afro-Arabian volcanism are thought to have contributed only 30 billion tons of SO2.

Meteorite impact craters are extremely difficult to date, but an understanding of their age and frequency is crucial to attempts to control the number of future impacts, as well as understanding the links between impacts and other catastrophic events such as large volcanic eruptions and mass extinctions.

Around 90% of the Earth’s record of meteorite impacts is lost, and the researchers argue that coincidences between impacts and flood volcanism are far from rare. They suggest that, for every incidence of flood volcanism, at least one crater the size of Logoisk is likely to form, although few such coincidences are likely to be on a scale grand enough to bring about an extinction event comparable with that which destroyed the dinosaurs.

Sarah Day | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

nachricht Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>