Middle Permian Extinction
Friday, May 29, 2009 6:26:18 PM
Wignall et al. have studied the Emeishan flood basalt province in south-west China. The eruption in the Emeishan province unleashed around half a million km2 of lava, covering an area 5 times the size of Wales. The eruptions occurred in a shallow sea so that the lava appears today as a distinctive layer of igneous rock sandwiched between layers of sedimentary rock containing easily datable fossilised marine life. A close temporal link between the onset of eruptions and extinction suggests a cause-and-effect scenario. Cooling and acid rain (caused by sulphur dioxide (SO2) effusion and sulfate aerosol formation) and consequent environmental deterioration are candidates for this link.
The study is published in the 29 May 2009 edition of the journal Science:
Volcanism, Mass Extinction, and Carbon Isotope Fluctuations in the Middle Permian of China
Vol. 324. no. 5931, pp. 1179 - 1182
There is a relevant press release from the University of Leeds:
And a plenitude of media coverage - a.o.: