Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Is this what killed the dinosaurs?

11.09.2003


New evidence supports volcanic eruption theory



The extinction of the dinosaurs – thought to be caused by an asteroid impact some 65 million years ago – was more likely to have been caused by a ’mantle plume’ – a huge volcanic eruption from deep within the earth’s mantle, the region between the crust and the core of the earth.

This theory, already supported by a significant body of geologists and palaeontologists, is strengthened by new evidence to be presented at an international conference at Cardiff University on 11-12 September.


Research by an American earth scientist, Professor Gerta Keller and her team, suggests that a similar eruption under the Indian Ocean several million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs had a similarly devastating impact on the environment. However, at this earlier time there is no evidence of any asteroid impact.

Her findings are based on analysis of microfossil assemblages, which were found inside cores that had been drilled deep into sediments on the ocean floor.

The eruptions that were responsible for these two extinction events were as a result of mantle plumes – a phenomenon caused by rising hot mantle from deep within the earth. Likened to the actions of a lava lamp, the mantle’s heat causes it to rise and mushroom out; it then flattens causing the mantle to melt and erupt magma over the earth’s surface and across an area of some 1,000 kilometres diameter. These eruptions last between one and two million years and more than one million cubic kilometres of lava can be erupted in that time.

Today, we can witness seven huge remnants of such mantle plume activity. These are also known as ’hotspots’ and are responsible for the volcanic activity on Iceland, the islands of Hawaii, Easter, Reunion, Tristan and Louisville as well as volcanism in the Afar region of Ethopia.

"Mantle plumes are literally a hot topic for debate," said conference organiser Dr Andrew Kerr of Cardiff University’s School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences. "They are a catalyst for the formation of ocean basins and fundamentally reshaping the earth’s surfaces. The massive outpouring of lava, ashes, and gas can have significant effects on climate, which destabilises the environment and have the potential to dictate the course of evolution. It is likely that were it not for mantle plumes, mammals would not have become predominant, and humankind would not be here today.

"Bizarrely, amongst earth scientists, there is also a vocal minority who don’t believe that mantle plumes exist at all. This conference is therefore an opportunity to address these issues and validity of the links between mantle plumes with the evolution of life by bringing together geophysicists, petrologists and palaeontologists."

Dr Andrew Kerr | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments
22.01.2018 | Duke University

nachricht World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered
18.01.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors

22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Radioactivity from oil and gas wastewater persists in Pennsylvania stream sediments

22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Saarland University bioinformaticians compute gene sequences inherited from each parent

22.01.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks Wissenschaft & Forschung
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>