The Age of Paraná Flood Volcanism, Rifting of Gondwanaland, and the Jurassic-Cretaceous Boundary

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Science  06 Nov 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5084, pp. 975-979
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5084.975


The Paraná-Etendeka flood volcanic event produced ∼1.5 x 106 cubic kilometers of volcanic rocks, ranging from basalts to rhyolites, before the separation of South America and Africa during the Cretaceous period. New 40Ar/39Ar data combined with earlier paleomagnetic results indicate that Paraná flood volcanism in southern Brazil began at 133 ± 1 million years ago and lasted less than 1 million years. The implied mean eruption rate on the order of 1.5 cubic kilometers per year is consistent with a mantle plume origin for the event and is comparable to eruption rates determined for other well-documented continental flood volcanic events. Paraná flood volcanism occurred before the initiation of sea floor spreading in the South Atlantic and was probably precipitated by uplift and weakening of the lithosphere by the Tristan da Cunha plume. The Parana event postdates most current estimates for the age of the faunal mass extinction associated with the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary.