Abstract

It has recently been proposed that flood basalt events, such as the eruption of the Deccan Traps, have been responsible for mass extinctions. To test this hypothesis, accurate estimations of the ages and duration of these events are needed. In the case of the Deccan Traps, however, neither age nor duration of emplacement is well constrained; measured ages range from 40 to more than 80 Ma, and estimates of duration range from <1 to 67m.y. To make an independent age determination, we use paleomagnetic and sea-floor-spreading data and estimate the associated errors. We compare the Deccan paleomagnetic pole with the reference apparent polar wander path of North America by rotating the positions of the paleomagnetic pole for the Deccan Traps to the reference path for a range of assumed ages. Uncertainties in the apparent polar wander path, Deccan paleopole position, and errors resulting from the plate reconstruction are estimated. We suggest 83-70 Ma as the most likely time of extrusion of these volcanic rocks.

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