Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Fifth Extinction

Image result for volcano

Environmental & Science Education
History of Science
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

Last year The Atlantic published The Nastiest Feud in Science, a title sure to grab one's attention. It is a long and thorough essay about Princeton paleontologist and geologist Gerta Keller who has long argued that the famous fifth extinction--the Chicxulub impact, 65 mya (dinosaurs)--was not caused solely by an asteroid impact but was a result of the environmental impacts of massive volcanic flows in India.  The asteroid impact was a secondary aspect and may have been an exacerbating factor in the extinction event.

These flows are known as the Deccan Traps.  The current area is considerably smaller than the original which covered about half of the size of modern India, and now covers about 500,000 square kilometers (200,000 square miles). It is also very thick--2000 meters (6500 feet).

The Atlantic has a short animated summary of this disputed territory in paleontology.

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