Discovery of a New Mass Extinction – Carnian Pluvial Episode – 233 Million Years Ago

Discovery of a New Mass Extinction – Carnian Pluvial Episode – 233 Million Years Ago

It’s not often a new mass extinction is identified; after all, such events were so devastating they really stand out in the fossil record. In a new paper, published today in Science Advances, an international team has identified a major extinction of life 233 million years ago that triggered the dinosaur takeover of the world. The crisis has been called the Carnian Pluvial Episode. The team of 17 researchers, led by Jacopo Dal Corso of the China University of Geosciences at Wuhan and Mike Benton of the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, reviewed all the geological and palaeontological evidence and determined what had happened. The cause was most likely massive volcanic eruptions in the Wrangellia Province of western Canada, where huge volumes of volcanic basalt was poured out and forms much of the western coast of North America. “The eruptions peaked in the Carnian,” says Jacopo Dal Corso. “I was studying the geochemical signature of the eruptions a few years ago and identified some massive effects on the atmosphere worldwide. The eruptions were so huge, they pumped vast amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and there were spikes of global warming.” The warming was associated with increased rainfall, and this had been detected back in the 1980s by geologists Mike Simms and Alastair Ruffell as a humid episode lasting about 1 million years in all. The climate change caused major biodiversity loss in the ocean and on land, but just after the extinction event new groups took over, forming more ...
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