Research Article

On impact and volcanism across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary

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Science  17 Jan 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6475, pp. 266-272
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5055

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An impact with a dash of volcanism

Around the time of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs, there was both a bolide impact and a large amount of volcanism. Hull et al. ran several temperature simulations based on different volcanic outgassing scenarios and compared them with temperature records across the extinction event. The best model fits to the data required most outgassing to occur before the impact. When combined with other lines of evidence, these models support an impact-driven extinction. However, volcanic gases may have played a role in shaping the rise of different species after the extinction event.

Science, this issue p. 266

Abstract

The cause of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction is vigorously debated, owing to the occurrence of a very large bolide impact and flood basalt volcanism near the boundary. Disentangling their relative importance is complicated by uncertainty regarding kill mechanisms and the relative timing of volcanogenic outgassing, impact, and extinction. We used carbon cycle modeling and paleotemperature records to constrain the timing of volcanogenic outgassing. We found support for major outgassing beginning and ending distinctly before the impact, with only the impact coinciding with mass extinction and biologically amplified carbon cycle change. Our models show that these extinction-related carbon cycle changes would have allowed the ocean to absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide, thus limiting the global warming otherwise expected from postextinction volcanism.

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