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Volcanism of the Central Atlantic magmatic province as the trigger of environmental and biotic changes around the Triassic-Jurassic boundary

By
József Pálfy
József Pálfy
Department of Physical and Applied Geology, Eötvös University, Budapest, H-1117, Hungary and MTA–MTM–ELTE Research Group for Paleontology, P.O. Box 137, Budapest, H-1431, Hungary
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Ádám T. Kocsis
Ádám T. Kocsis
MTA–MTM–ELTE Research Group for Paleontology, P.O. Box 137, Budapest, H-1431, Hungary and Department of Physical and Applied Geology, Eötvös University, Budapest, H-1117, Hungary
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Published:
September 01, 2014

In the last decade, major advances have been made in our understanding of the end-Triassic mass extinction, related environmental changes, and volcanism of the Central Atlantic magmatic province. Studies of various fossil groups and synoptic analyses of global diversity document the extinction and subsequent recovery. The concomitant environmental changes are manifested in a series of carbon isotope excursions (CIE), suggesting perturbations in the global carbon cycle. Besides the earlier-recognized initial and main negative anomalies, a more complex picture is emerging with other CIEs, both negative and positive, prior to and following the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. The source of isotopically light carbon remains debated (methane from hydrate dissociation vs. thermogenic methane), but either process is capable of amplifying an initial warming, resulting in runaway greenhouse conditions. Excess CO2 entering the ocean causes acidification, an effective killing mechanism for heavily calcified marine biota that appears implicated in the reef crisis. The spatial and temporal extent of Central Atlantic magmatic province volcanism is established through a growing data set of radiometric ages. Since the Central Atlantic magmatic province is one of the largest Phanerozoic large igneous provinces, volcanic CO2-driven warming is plausible as a key factor in the chain of Triassic-Jurassic boundary events. Greenhouse warming may have been punctuated by short-term cooling episodes due to H2S emission and production of sulfate aerosols, a process more difficult to trace in the stratigraphic record. Taken together, recently generated data significantly increase the support for Central Atlantic magmatic province volcanism as a viable trigger for the environmental and biotic changes around the Triassic-Jurassic boundary.

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GSA Special Papers

Volcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions: Causes and Effects

Gerta Keller
Gerta Keller
Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA
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Andrew C. Kerr
Andrew C. Kerr
School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, Wales, UK
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Geological Society of America
Volume
505
ISBN print:
9780813725055
Publication date:
September 01, 2014

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