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What Exactly Caused Mass Extinction 66 Million Years Ago?

The widely accepted theory why dinosaurs went extinct around 66 million years ago was that a huge meteor crashed onto the earth causing a massive explosion that wiped out most of the living creatures on the planet. However, there is a theory based on data collected by researchers saying that apart from the meteor hitting the earth, volcanic eruptions might have also contributed to the mass extinction event. Whether they simultaneously occurred or the meteor impact caused the eruptions is still unclear.

The research sheds light on huge lava flows that have erupted periodically over Earth's history, and how they have affected the atmosphere and altered the course of life on the planet.
In the study, University of California, Berkeley, scientists report the most precise and accurate dates yet for the intense volcanic eruptions in India that coincided with the worldwide extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period, the so-called K-Pg boundary. The million-year sequence of eruptions spewed lava flows for distances of at least 500 kilometers across the Indian continent, creating the so-called Deccan Traps flood basalts that in some places are nearly 2 kilometers thick.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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I have always wondered if the magma outflow in the Deccan traps and the K/T impact on the Yucatan peninsula were not two parts of the same catastrophe. If you look at a globe, these two places are very nearly diametrically opposed points on the earth. I have recently read studies theorizing that the energy from the impact could have passed through the earth and focused at the opposite point on the globe - - possibly enough energy to disrupt and fracture the crust and may have caused (or greatly exacerbated already existing) volcanism in the Deccan traps area. I think that this has also been put forward as a possibility in the even larger magma outflow in Siberia which may have coincided with an impact that has been linked to the mass extinction at the end of the Permian era.
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Maybe the asteroid by itself wouldn't have done in the non-avian dinosaurs (birds are actually dinosaurs - so your pet cockatiel is a second cousin to Blue!). Maybe the eruptions by themselves would not have been enough. But the one-two punch was enough to cause the K-T extinction.
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