Ancient volcanic activity in the Deccan Traps in India contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs!

Ancient volcanic activity in the Deccan Traps in India contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs!

Representative image

(Jorge Gonzalez)

When you imagine the death of our prehistoric dinosaurs, images of meteors shaking the Earth against a frightening backdrop of volcanic eruptions may come to mind. While these events may have helped catalyze their inevitable demise, the actual die-offs may have been a slow and painful process, driven by planet-wide climate change. But what's even more surprising is that amidst all this, one of India's famous geological features may have also contributed significantly to paving the way for the extinction of the dinosaurs!

The Deccan Traps, a vast, rugged plateau in western India formed by molten lava, may have played a major role in cooling the global climate about 65 million years ago, new research suggests. These eruptions eventually led to the doomsday season: a phenomenon known as volcanic winter, in which the Earth's surface was plunged into darkness and cold.

The Deccan Traps are a series of lava flows that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous Period, which extended from 145 million to 66 million years ago. The flows covered an area of ​​about 1.5 million square kilometers near India's Western Ghats, roughly half the area of ​​modern India.

Scientists have found that the volcanic eruptions that created the Deccan Traps 200,000 years before the demise of the dinosaurs released large amounts of sulfur and fluorine into the atmosphere. These toxic gases would have further cooled the Earth's climate and blocked out sunlight, making it difficult for plants to grow, and many animals would have starved in the process. Furthermore, sulfur was likely injected into the atmosphere in short bursts from volcanoes, resulting in a significant drop in global temperatures.

Overall, researchers believe this ancient phase of climate change may have helped Earth transition from the Cretaceous to the Paleogene, which occurred 66 million to 23 million years ago.

“Our research shows that climate conditions were almost certainly unstable, with frequent volcanic winters that could have lasted decades, before the extinction of the dinosaurs,” explains Don Baker, co-author of the study. “This instability could have made life difficult for all plants and animals and set the stage for a dinosaur extinction event.”

Most scientists believe that the Chicxulub asteroid impact event in North America was the primary cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs. However, this Deccan volcano may have been an accomplice in the worsening deaths.

The results of this study suggest that the asteroid impact often blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs may not have been the only factor involved. Moreover, the Deccan Traps eruptions demonstrate how small changes in global temperatures can have a devastating impact on life on Earth.

The results of this research were published in Scientific progress It can be accessed here.

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