Mass extinction in the Mesozoic era occurred due to volcanic eruptions. This hypothesis was confirmed by a high concentration of carbon dioxide of magmatic origin, found in basalts of the Central Atlantic igneous province. The analysis was carried out by scientists from the University of Padova, their work was published in the journal Nature Communications.
The Cretaceous – Paleogene extinction is one of the five great mass extinctions that occurred about 66 million years ago in the Mesozoic era. The reason for the extinction was a sharp increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which led to an increase in air temperature and acidification of the ocean due to a series of acid rain.
There are several hypotheses about the event that caused this extinction – from the fall of the asteroid, which led to the appearance of the Chiksulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula, to the eruption of volcanoes.
In a new study, scientists analyzed basalts from the Central Atlantic igneous province – the largest area of igneous rocks in the world, which formed at the end of the Triassic period.
A study using Raman spectroscopy showed that basalts contain a large amount of carbon dioxide and methane of magmatic origin. Scientists then used the collected data to model emissions during the Cretaceous – Paleogene extinction.
The analysis showed that the eruption of volcanoes at the end of the Triassic period led to the release of 105 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – this is about the same as it will be released into the atmosphere for the entire 21st century, the authors of the work note.