Siberian eruptions likely triggered one of the greatest extinctions on Earth, study reports
Volcanic eruptions in ancient Siberia were likely behind the Great Permian Extinction.

By Jackie Flores | Jul 28, 2017

Researchers from New York University have discovered that ancient volcanic eruptions in Siberia may have triggered the Great Permian Extinction some 250 million years ago, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.

The team made this new discovery by using an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer -- whichmeasures the abundance of rare elements at an atomic level to map chemical fingerprints from different countries across the world.

Such research revealed that a series of ancient eruptions drastically altered the Earth's environment during the Great Permian Extinction, a global event that killed off more than 90 percent of all species on Earth.

The blasts were deadly because, not only were they powerful, but they were also linked tonickel-rich magmatic intrusions. Those rocks -- which are formed from cooling magma -- hold some of the greatest deposits of nickel ore on Earth.As a result, the eruptions likely spread the element throughout the world and slowly killed off a wide number of species.

"The Siberian volcanic eruptions and related massive intrusions of nickel-rich magmas into the Earth's crust apparently emitted nickel-rich volatiles into the atmosphere, where they were distributed globally," explained lead author Michael Rampino, a geologist at New York University, according to Business Standard.

The team also found that the magma may have reacted with older coal deposits and released large amounts of both carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. The two greenhouse gases likely triggered intense periods of global warming in both the oceans and on land during the extinction.

This new information is important because, not only does it shed light into Earth's past, but it could also help researchers better understand how different extinctions took place and provide insight into evolution.The team next hopes to look forward and see if the new findings can show or predict any future extinction events.

"We hope to learn more about how these events trigger massive extinctions that affect both land and marine animals," said study co-author Sedelia Rodriguez, an Environmental Science lecturer at Barnard College, according to Express UK. "Additionally, we hope this research will contribute to determining whether an event of this magnitude is possible in the future."

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