Volcanism triggered end-Triassic extinction

The end-Triassic mass extinction exterminated up to three-quarters of all species on land and in the oceans 201 million years ago. This die-off opened up ecological niches and allowed for, among other changes, dinosaurs to diversify and spread across terrestrial ecosystems during the rest of the Mesozoic. Volcanism has long been implicated in the extinction, but whether it had a major impact on the planet at the time has remained unclear. In new research, scientists observed elevated mercury concentrations in extinction-aged rocks from around the world. Because volcanism is the main nonanthropogenic source of mercury in the environment, the findings suggest that volcanic activity was likely the main extinction trigger at the end of the Triassic.

Full content for EARTH is available to subscribers. If you would like to gain access to the full version of this article, as well as all EARTH content, please subscribe today.

If you are connecting using a Library (IP-based) Subscription, please access full issues of the magazine through our Library Access portal.

Lucas Joel

Lucas Joel was EARTH's 2015 summer intern.

Joel (www.lvjwriting.com) is a freelance science journalist. He has a master's in paleontology from the University of California, Riverside, and is currently based in Boulder, Colo. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 06:00