New research looks at what part volcanic activity played in the mass extinction, and if it was fueled by the asteroid strike.
Earthquakes have been known to initiate volcanic activity in the past. An impact like the one at the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico would equate to a magnitude 11 on the Richter scale, meaning the energy released from the impact would be some 80-plus times stronger than the magnitude 8.2 that struck Chile in 2014.
Such an impact would have been felt even down into the core of the Earth, and the resulting shaking and movement could have fed the massive eruptions such at the one at the Deccan Traps. Gasses released from the eruptions would have had a devastating global effect, and likely would have caused a temperature change, either warming the planet with a greenhouse effect, or cooling the earth due to blocking out the sunlight.
Either way, the climate change would have been deadly for the animals and vegetation on the planet’s surface, and would lead to mass extinctions.
The best estimate the researchers could give is that the volcanic eruptions were occurring within 50,000 years of the impact form the asteroid, a mere blink of the eye on geological terms.
Renne adds, “It doesn’t mean that the volcanism changed 50,000 years after the impact. “I can imagine a few thousand years being the timescale that these effects took to propagate and the magma to ascend from the mantle, but 50,000 years seems like an awfully long time. If further work showed that it really did take that long, I think that we would have to consider some extra complications that we haven’t thought of yet.”
The study is not the first to bring the part volcanic activity played in the extinction of the dinosaurs. Some geologists believe the climate change due to volcanic activity before the asteroid impact had already weakened the dinosaurs, but they also say the asteroid impact was the final blow.
The researchers on the study expect their work will be challenged, partly because of the 50,000-year time window. Renne said, “Is this going to lay to rest the long-standing controversy about what happened? I don’t think it will.”
This new research will just add fuel to the fire about the extinction of the dinosaurs, but all agree the extinction was not all bad. Without the demise of the dinosaurs, mammals would not have been allowed to flourish on the planet, and without them, we would not be here as well.