A new research report published in the journal Nature Geoscience has suggested that the mass extinction which happened in the earth around 250 million years ago could be due to mammoth volcanic eruptions.
Earlier, it has been revealed that more than 90 percent life on earth was wiped off in a mass extinction event known as the Permian–Triassic extinction or the 'Great Dying'. Interestingly, during the same period, lava flowed through the surface of the earth for more than one million years. After understanding more about both these events, researchers have long probed possible links between this mass extinction event and volcanic eruption.
The new research claims that it was nothing but the volcanic eruptions triggered on the north of ancient supercontinent Pangaea which resulted in this dreaded mass killing event. The initial eruption which happened in the north of Pangaea soon broke up into the modern continents which we see today.
Researchers believe that these violent eruptions took place in modern Siberia, and today it is known as the Siberian Flood Basalts.
During the research, Michael Broadley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Petrographic and Geochemical Research along with Lawrence Taylor, a former director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee sourced a number of rocks that once lay deep within the earth. The researchers also analyzed the lithosphere of the particular area to understand the violent volcanic history of the area.
"The scale of this extinction was so incredible that scientists have often wondered what made the Siberian Flood Basalts so much more deadly than other similar eruptions. Taylor was instrumental in supplying samples of mantle xenoliths, rock sections of the lithosphere that get captured by the passing magma and erupted to the surface during the volcanic explosion," said Broadley in a statement.
Unfortunately, Lawrence Taylor died in September 2017 when the research was midway.
Broadley revealed that the gigantic volcanic eruption churned loads of chemicals into the atmosphere and these chemicals depleted the Ozone layer which acted as a protective guard from the dangerous ultraviolet rays. The researcher argues that the destruction of the Ozone layer has played a crucial role in the 'Great Dying' event.