Sep 10, 2022

Slowing of continental plate movement controlled the timing of Earth’s largest volcanic events

Posted by in categories: biological, climatology, existential risks

Scientists have shed new light on the timing and likely cause of major volcanic events that occurred millions of years ago and caused such climatic and biological upheaval that they drove some of the most devastating extinction events in Earth’s history.

Surprisingly, the new research, published today in Science Advances, suggests a slowing of continental plate movement was the critical event that enabled magma to rise to the Earth’s surface and deliver the devastating knock-on impacts.

Earth’s history has been marked by major volcanic events, called large igneous provinces (LIPs)—the largest of which have caused major increases in atmospheric carbon emissions that warmed Earth’s climate, drove unprecedented changes to ecosystems, and resulted in mass extinctions on land and in the oceans.

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