Giant Lava Flows, Mass Extinctions, and Mantle Plumes

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Science  23 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5414, pp. 604-605
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5414.604

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A number of immense volcanic events throughout the history of Earth may have influenced the movement of continents, past global climate, and the mass extinction of species. In his Perspective, Olsen discusses work reported in the same issue by Marzoli et al. on what may be the largest such volcanic episode, the result of which is known as the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. The lava flows of this event, thought to have occurred some 200 million years ago, cover more than 7 million square kilometers. As Olsen describes, everything about these large magmatic events is controversial, but Marzoli et al. have found evidence that the formation of the CAMP coincided with a mass extinction at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary.