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 NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>