Synchronism of the Siberian Traps and the Permian-Triassic Boundary

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Science  11 Dec 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5089, pp. 1760-1763
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5089.1760


Uranium-lead ages from an ion probe were taken for zircons from the ore-bearing Noril'sk I intrusion that is comagmatic with, and intrusive to, the Siberian Traps. These values match, within an experimental error of ±4 million years, the dates for zircons extracted from a tuff at the Permian-Triassic (P-Tr) boundary. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that the P-Tr extinction was caused by the Siberian basaltic flood volcanism. It is likely that the eruption of these magmas was accompanied by the injection of large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, which may have led to global cooling and to expansion of the polar ice cap. The P-Tr extinction event may have been caused by a combination of acid rain and global cooling as well as rapid and extreme changes in sea level resulting from expansion of the polar ice cap.