Rapid Eruption of the Siberian Traps Flood Basalts at the Permo-Triassic Boundary

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Science  12 Jul 1991:
Vol. 253, Issue 5016, pp. 176-179
DOI: 10.1126/science.253.5016.176


The Siberian Traps represent one of the most voluminous flood basalt provinces on Earth. Laser-heating 40Ar/39Ar data indicate that the bulk of these basalts was erupted over an extremely short time interval (900,000 ± 800,000 years) beginning at about 248 million years ago at mean eruption rates of greater than 1.3 cubic kilometers per year. Such rates are consistent with a mantle plume origin. Magmatism was not associated with significant lithospheric rifting; thus, mantle decompression resulting from rifting was probably not the primary cause of widespread melting. Inception of Siberian Traps volcanism coincided (within uncertainty) with a profound faunal mass extinction at the Permo-Triassic boundary 249 ± 4 million years ago; these data thus leave open the question of a genetic relation between the two events.

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