Series of volcanic eruptions may have aided extinction of dinosaurs on Earth: Study | World News - Hindustan Times
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Series of volcanic eruptions may have aided extinction of dinosaurs on Earth: Study

Nov 28, 2023 02:27 PM IST

The research based their findings on studying the Deccan Traps in western and central India, which were formed from lava spewed out during the volcanic events

Toronto: A group of international scientists have claimed that climate crisis caused by a series of volcanic eruptions may have contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs on Earth. The research based their findings on studying the Deccan Traps in western and central India, which were formed from lava spewed out during the volcanic events.

A view of the Deccan Traps region of India, which was formed from lava spewed by volcanic eruptions. (Credit: Paul Renne)
A view of the Deccan Traps region of India, which was formed from lava spewed by volcanic eruptions. (Credit: Paul Renne)

The study was published in the journal Science Advances. A release from McGill University in Montreal said, “Climate change triggered by massive volcanic eruptions may have ultimately set the stage for the dinosaur extinction, challenging the traditional narrative that a meteorite alone delivered the final blow to the ancient giants.”

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The researchers examined the Deccan Traps, a vast, rugged plateau in western India formed by molten lava. “Erupting a staggering one million cubic kilometres of rock, it may have played a key role in cooling the global climate around 65 million years ago,” the study noted.

The scientists estimated how much sulphur and fluorine was injected into the atmosphere due to the volcanic events approximately 200,000 years before the extinction of the dinosaurs. They found that the sulphur released could have caused a volcanic winter, with temperatures plummeting in the world.

“Our research demonstrates that climatic conditions were almost certainly unstable, with repeated volcanic winters that could have lasted decades, prior to the extinction of the dinosaurs. This instability would have made life difficult for all plants and animals and set the stage for the dinosaur extinction event. Thus, our work helps explain this significant extinction event that led to the rise of mammals and the evolution of our species,” the study’s co-author and professor in McGill University’s Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences Don Baker said.

The study found that “such activity could have caused repeated short-lived global drops in temperature, stressing the ecosystems long before the bolide impact delivered its final blow at the end of the Cretaceous. Bolide impact refers to the Earth being struck by asteroids or comets, while the Cretaceous period lasted from 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago, culminating with the end of the age of dinosaurs.

Scientists at McGill developed a new technique to “decode” the volcanic history of the region from rock samples.

It allowed scientists to measure sulphur and fluorine in rock samples and based on that information, they were able to calculate the amount of these gases released during the eruptions.

Researchers from Italy, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada participated in the study. “Their findings mark a step forward in piecing together Earth’s ancient secrets and pave the way for a more informed approach to our own changing climate,” the release stated.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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