Report

State shift in Deccan volcanism at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, possibly induced by impact

Science  02 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6256, pp. 76-78
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac7549

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Making an impact in more ways than one

Massive eruptions formed the Deccan Traps flood basalts in India at around the same time as the mass extinction event 65 million years ago. Renne et al. precisely dated the massive volcanic field, which suggests a simultaneous increase in volcanism associated with the famous Chicxulub impact. Strong ecologic recovery may have been impossible until the volcanism slowed down 500,000 years later.

Science, this issue p. 76

Abstract

Bolide impact and flood volcanism compete as leading candidates for the cause of terminal-Cretaceous mass extinctions. High-precision 40Ar/39Ar data indicate that these two mechanisms may be genetically related, and neither can be considered in isolation. The existing Deccan Traps magmatic system underwent a state shift approximately coincident with the Chicxulub impact and the terminal-Cretaceous mass extinctions, after which ~70% of the Traps' total volume was extruded in more massive and more episodic eruptions. Initiation of this new regime occurred within ~50,000 years of the impact, which is consistent with transient effects of impact-induced seismic energy. Postextinction recovery of marine ecosystems was probably suppressed until after the accelerated volcanism waned.

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