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Deccan volcanism, greenhouse warming, and the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary

By
Kenneth G. Caldeira
Kenneth G. Caldeira
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Michael R. Rampino
Michael R. Rampino
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Published:
January 01, 1990

A greenhouse warming produced by increased emissions of mantle volatiles (CO2, SO2, HC1), particularly from the Deccan Traps flood basalt eruptions in India, has been suggested as a cause of the terminal Cretaceous extinctions. In order to quantify some of the possible climatological effects of an injection of volcanic volatiles into the ocean-atmosphere system, we have developed a global biogeochemical carbon-cycle model that emphasizes the roles of ocean chemistry and the chemical weathering of terrestrial carbonate and silicate rocks. Model results indicate that Deccan Traps degassing would have produced variations in atmospheric CO2, leading to a sustained global warming of less than 2 °C—too weak a climatic effect to be associated with mass extinctions. The calculated global warming is at a rate two orders of magnitude slower and less than half the absolute amount experienced during the Holocene.

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GSA Special Papers

Global Catastrophes in Earth History; An Interdisciplinary Conference on Impacts, Volcanism, and Mass Mortality

Virgil L. Sharpton
Virgil L. Sharpton
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Peter D. Ward
Peter D. Ward
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Geological Society of America
Volume
247
ISBN print:
9780813722474
Publication date:
January 01, 1990

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