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TitleDeccan volcanic activity and its links to the end-Cretaceous extinction in northern China
AuthorGu, X; Zhang, L; Yin, R; Grasby, S EORCID logo; Yao, H; Tan, J; Wang, C
SourceGlobal and Planetary Change vol. 210, 103772, 2022 p. 1-10,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20210719
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS 122.0000 126.0000 48.0000 44.0000
Subjectsstratigraphy; volcanism; extinction angles; Upper Cretaceous; stratification; mercury; mercury geochemistry; isotopes
Illustrationslocation maps; stratigraphic columns; geochemical plots
Released2022 02 16
AbstractThe Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary mass extinction is commonly attributed to the Chicxulub impact and/or the Deccan Traps (DT) volcanism, but the underlying trigger remains uncertain. The lack of detailed identification of the DT eruptive pluses impedes the full assessment of their relationship to the K-Pg boundary mass extinction. Here we present the first mercury (Hg) chemostratigraphy records on the paleo Asian plate, coupled with climatic and biotic data, to constrain the effects of the DT on the Late Cretaceous climate change and mass extinction. In northern China, a total Hg (THg) spike follows warming caused by the DT volcanism and corresponds to the significant species losses. Our study suggests that this most intense pulse of the DT (~50 kyr duration) occurred just before the K-Pg boundary and suggests that it contributed to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction in northern China.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The extinction of the Dinosaurs occurred at the end of the Cretaceous Period, famously caused by a large meteorite impact. There is growing question of this meteorite impact as the main extinction driver, however, as simultaneously one of the largest volcanic eruptions in Earth history was occurring. It becomes key to test when life went extinct relative to the impact and eruption to distinguish the two possibilities. To do this a global group of scientists have turned to a method developed at NRCan to determine the timing of volcanic eruptions by the enrichment of mercury it leaves in the soil. This study examined a terrestrial record and determined that that main eruption event occurred just prior to the mass extinction, suggesting that it could be a main extinction driver.

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