Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

University At Buffalo Research Offers First Evidence That Massive Lava Flows Triggered Apocalyptic Climate Changes

Date:
November 16, 2000
Source:
University At Buffalo
Summary:
A University at Buffalo geologist has shown that it is very likely that huge flood basalt eruptions caused dramatic global-scale climate shifts and mass extinctions, even if lava is erupted relatively slowly.

RENO, Nev. -- Scientists long have believed that mass extinctions are triggered by sudden global changes in climate.

Some of these cataclysmic events, like the one originally assumed to have wiped out the dinosaurs, occurred at about the same time as tremendous volcanic eruptions called flood basalt eruptions that produced massive flows of lava exiting the earth's crust.

Scientists have speculated that mass extinctions might be precipitated by these volcanic eruptions. For those eruptions to have had a sufficient effect on climate to cause cooling significant enough to lead to the collapse of ecosystems and the extinction of many species, scientists have said that they would have had to have been capable of thrusting gases and particles up into the stratosphere where they would block out sunlight.

Computer models suggested that flood basalt eruptions could cause this kind of effect on climate, but recent changes in scientists' ideas of the speed at which flood lavas are erupted has drawn into question these original findings.

Now, a University at Buffalo geologist has reexamined the issue and shown that it is indeed very likely that huge flood basalt eruptions caused dramatic global-scale climate shifts and mass extinctions, even if lava is erupted relatively slowly.

Elisabeth Parfitt, Ph.D., UB assistant professor of geology, described results of her research here today (Nov. 16, 2000) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Parfitt's computer models are the first to show that massive sheets of lava produced by flood basalt eruptions millions of years ago generated such intense heat that they functioned as a secondary heat event, causing gases and fine ash to be carried into the upper atmosphere, even in the case where an eruption might not generate sufficient heat to cause clouds of gases and particles to reach high enough into the atmosphere to effect the global climate.

Some of these massive sheets of lava measured as large as 200 kilometers, or 130 miles, long.

"According to our models, these lava flows, which could be as hot as 1,200 degrees Centigrade when they are first erupted, could push ash and gas up to heights of 30 kilometers above the volcanic vent," said Parfitt.

"Sometimes volcanic eruptions don't form a mountain," she explained. "Instead, the magma shoots straight up through the earth's crust and is erupted from a crack, which might be as much as 100 kilometers long. These flood basalt eruptions often produced these massive sheets of lava, which can be as much as 100 or 200 kilometers (65 miles or 130 miles) long and they gave off a huge amount of heat."

Parfitt explained that these huge eruptions are like much bigger versions of basaltic eruptions, such as those going on now in Hawaii. She added that a large part of Washington state is covered by flood basalt lava, which erupted there about 16 million years ago.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University At Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University At Buffalo. "University At Buffalo Research Offers First Evidence That Massive Lava Flows Triggered Apocalyptic Climate Changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001116080857.htm>.
University At Buffalo. (2000, November 16). University At Buffalo Research Offers First Evidence That Massive Lava Flows Triggered Apocalyptic Climate Changes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001116080857.htm
University At Buffalo. "University At Buffalo Research Offers First Evidence That Massive Lava Flows Triggered Apocalyptic Climate Changes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001116080857.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Heads to Bermuda

Raw: Powerful Hurricane Gonzalo Heads to Bermuda

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Hurricane Gonzalo pounded Bermuda with wind and heavy surf on Friday, bearing down on the tiny British territory as a powerful Category 3 storm that could raise coastal seas as much as 10 feet. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda

Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Powerful hurricane could hit Bermuda this weekend, and even if it misses it will likely do some damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas

The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) One of the largest volcanic eruptions in centuries is occurring on Iceland. The volcano Bardarbunga is producing high levels of sulfur dioxide. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins