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Triggering of the largest Deccan eruptions by the Chicxulub impact

Mark A. Richards, Walter Alvarez, Stephen Self, Leif Karlstrom, Paul R. Renne, Michael Manga, Courtney J. Sprain, Jan Smit, Loyc Vanderkluysen and Sally A. Gibson
Triggering of the largest Deccan eruptions by the Chicxulub impact
Geological Society of America Bulletin (April 2015) 127 (11-12): 1507-1520

Abstract

New constraints on the timing of the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction and the Chicxulub impact, together with a particularly voluminous and apparently brief eruptive pulse toward the end of the "main-stage" eruptions of the Deccan continental flood basalt province suggest that these three events may have occurred within less than about a hundred thousand years of each other. Partial melting induced by the Chicxulub event does not provide an energetically plausible explanation for this coincidence, and both geochronologic and magnetic-polarity data show that Deccan volcanism was under way well before Chicxulub/Cretaceous-Paleogene time. However, historical data document that eruptions from existing volcanic systems can be triggered by earthquakes. Seismic modeling of the ground motion due to the Chicxulub impact suggests that the impact could have generated seismic energy densities of order 0.1-1.0 J/m (super 3) throughout the upper approximately 200 km of Earth's mantle, sufficient to trigger volcanic eruptions worldwide based upon comparison with historical examples. Triggering may have been caused by a transient increase in the effective permeability of the existing deep magmatic system beneath the Deccan province, or mantle plume "head." It is therefore reasonable to hypothesize that the Chicxulub impact might have triggered the enormous Poladpur, Ambenali, and Mahabaleshwar (Wai Subgroup) lava flows, which together may account for >70% of the Deccan Traps main-stage eruptions. This hypothesis is consistent with independent stratigraphic, geochronologic, geochemical, and tectonic constraints, which combine to indicate that at approximately Chicxulub/Cretaceous-Paleogene time, a huge pulse of mantle plume-derived magma passed through the crust with little interaction and erupted to form the most extensive and voluminous lava flows known on Earth. High-precision radioisotopic dating of the main-phase Deccan flood basalt formations may be able either to confirm or reject this hypothesis, which in turn might help to determine whether this singular outburst within the Deccan Traps (and possibly volcanic eruptions worldwide) contributed significantly to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction.


ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Coden: BUGMAF
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: 127
Serial Issue: 11-12
Title: Triggering of the largest Deccan eruptions by the Chicxulub impact
Affiliation: University of California, Berkeley, Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Berkeley, CA, United States
Pages: 1507-1520
Published: 20150430
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
Number of pages: unpaginated
References: 95
Accession Number: 2015-061819
Categories: StratigraphyIgneous and metamorphic petrology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch map
N18°00'00" - N20°00'00", E73°30'00" - E74°30'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Oregon, USA, United StatesOsservatorio Geologico di Coldigioco, ITA, ItalyDrexel University, USA, United StatesUniversity of Cambridge, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201527
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