The study found that the most devastating mass extinctions on Earth were caused by the slowing of continental plates

Earth’s history has been marked by major volcanic eruptions, some of which have caused climatic and biological disturbances that have led to some of the most devastating extinction events in Earth’s history.

Scientists have now shed new light on the timing and possible cause of these events, which occurred millions of years ago.

A new study by Trinity College Dublin reveals that slowing continental plate movement was the critical event that enabled magma to rise to Earth’s surface and cause devastating effects.

The surprising discovery is based on chemical data from ancient mudstone deposits obtained from a mile-deep well in Wales.

Lead author Dr Misha Ruhl, from Trinity College Dublin, said: ‘Scientists have long believed that the beginning of the ascent of molten igneous rock, or magma, from deep within the Earth’s interior, such as mantle plumes, was the instigator of such volcanic activity.

But new evidence shows that the normal rate of continental plate movement of several centimeters per year actually prevents magma from penetrating the Earth’s continental crust.

It appears that only when the velocity of continental plate movement slows to nearly zero magma from the mantle plumes can effectively make its way to the surface, causing large eruptions in igneous provinces and associated climate disturbances and mass extinctions.

Earth’s history has been marked by major volcanic eruptions, some of which have caused climatic and biological disturbances that have led to some of the most devastating extinction events in Earth’s history.

A model linking the low velocity of the African continental plate to the increasing thermal erosion of the mantle and crust, resulting in the centralization of the large Caro Ferrar Volcanic Province (LIP) in southern Pangea 183 million years ago.

A model linking the low velocity of the African continental plate to the increasing thermal erosion of the mantle and crust, resulting in the centralization of the large Caro Ferrar Volcanic Province (LIP) in southern Pangea 183 million years ago.

Earth mass extinction events

Ordovician-Silurian Extinction

  • When did that happen? 444 million years ago
  • How many species became extinct? 85% of life on Earth
  • what is the reason? Global cooling and sea level decline

Late Devonian Extinction

  • When did that happen? 383 million years ago
  • How many species became extinct? 75% of life on Earth
  • what is the reason? Volcanoes, asteroid impact and plant adaptation

Permian-Triassic Extinction

  • When did that happen? 252 million years ago
  • How many species became extinct? 97 percent of life on Earth
  • what is the reason? A massive volcanic eruption released chemicals that stripped the Earth of the ozone layer and exposed living organisms to the sun’s deadly radiation.

the jurassic triassic extinction

  • When did that happen? 201 million years ago
  • How many species became extinct? 80% of life on Earth
  • what is the reason? Ocean acidification caused by the eruption of the Mid-Atlantic Rocky Province, causing warming on Earth.

Extinction of the Cretaceous and Paleogene

  • When did that happen? 66 million years ago
  • How many species became extinct? 76 percent of life on Earth
  • what is the reason? Giant asteroid collision

The world’s largest volcanoes are located in areas called Large Volcanic Provinces (LIPs).

These include Russia’s Siberian Traps, which span more than 500,000 square miles and have been the site of nearly a million years of epic volcanic activity.

The largest volcanic eruptions caused significant increases in carbon emissions to the atmosphere that warmed the Earth’s climate, led to unprecedented changes in ecosystems, and led to mass extinctions on land and in the oceans.

In the study, the international team was able to connect two major events that occurred during the Toarcian period, about 183 million years ago.

This time period was marked by some of the most severe climatic and environmental changes ever, and directly coincided with significant volcanic activity and associated greenhouse gas emissions in the Southern Hemisphere.

Computer reconstruction models showed that the slowing of the movement of the continental plates was the basic geologic process that seemed to control the timing and onset of this and other major volcanic events.

Crucially, further assessment shows that the decline in continental plate movement likely has controlled the onset and duration of many major volcanic events throughout Earth’s history, making them an essential process in controlling the evolution of climate and life on Earth’s surface throughout the planet’s history, he said. Dr. Ruhl.

During the past 600 million years, there have been five major mass extinctions. While some have been well studied, others are more enigmatic.

The first three extinctions occurred towards the end of the Ordovician period (about 445 million years ago), the end of the Devonian period (385 to 359 million years ago) and at the end of the Permian period (about 252 million years ago).

The most devastating of these was the end of the Permian period, which wiped out about 96 percent of all marine species and about 70 percent of all known species on Earth.

Massive volcanic eruptions have occurred on an unprecedented scale, with other effects including the runaway global warming effect caused by the release of methane from craters on the sea floor. Recovery took about 10 million years.

The extinction at the end of the Triassic period, about 201 million years ago, mostly affected life in the oceans, with the extinction of a third of marine species. Some groups of reptiles on Earth have also become extinct.

examples of when plate velocity decreased coincided with major volcanic eruptions—including the appearance of Siberian traps about 252 million years ago (a), and

Examples of when plate velocity decreased coincided with major volcanic eruptions – including the emergence of Siberian traps about 252 million years ago (a), the “emergence” of Iceland Plum from beneath the Greenland Craton about 56 million years ago (b), and the onset of volcanism The East African rift erupted about 40 million years ago, resulting in persistent volcanic eruptions throughout the Late Cenozoic (C).

The late Triassic mass extinction 201 million years ago was caused by a large-scale volcanic eruption in the Mid-Atlantic Magmatic Province, leading to the splitting of the supercontinent Pangea (left) and the initial opening of what would become the Atlantic Ocean

The late Triassic mass extinction 201 million years ago was caused by a large-scale volcanic eruption in the Mid-Atlantic Magmatic Province, leading to the splitting of the supercontinent Pangea (left) and the initial opening of what would become the Atlantic Ocean

The study, conducted by Trinity College Dublin, revealed that the slowdown in the movement of the continental plates was the critical event that enabled magma to rise to Earth's surface and cause devastating effects.

The study, conducted by Trinity College Dublin, revealed that the slowdown in the movement of the continental plates was the critical event that enabled magma to rise to Earth’s surface and cause devastating effects.

The last mass extinction occurred 66 million years ago when a city-sized asteroid collided with the Gulf of Mexico. You killed the dinosaurs.

The study helps to separate the various processes that control the changing global carbon cycle and tipping points in the Earth’s climate system.

It could have implications today – as the sixth mass extinction is already believed to be underway due to man-made global warming.

Researchers claim Earth is experiencing sixth man-made mass extinction with ‘biological extermination’ of wildlife

The world has experienced five mass extinctions in its history, and experts claim that we are witnessing another extinction event now.

A 2017 research paper claimed that the “biological extermination” of wildlife in recent decades caused the sixth mass extinction and says the planet is heading for a “global crisis”.

Scientists warn that voracious consumption of humanity and indiscriminate destruction is to blame for this event, the first major extinction since the dinosaurs.

Two species of vertebrates, animals with a backbone, have gone extinct each year, on average, during the past century.

Currently, about 41 percent of amphibian species and more than a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction.

There are an estimated 8.7 million species of plants and animals on our planet, and about 86 percent of terrestrial species and 91 percent of marine species remain undiscovered.

Of the species we know about, 1,204 mammals, 1,469 birds, 1,215 reptiles, 2,100 amphibians, and 2,386 fish species are considered threatened.

1414 insects, 2,187 mollusks, 732 crustaceans, 237 corals, 12,505 plants, 33 mushrooms and six species of brown algae were also threatened.

More than 25,000 of the 91,523 species assessed for the 2017 Red List update were classified as “threatened.”

The number of endangered invertebrates has also reached its peak.

Scientists predict that insects may become extinct within 100 years as a result of crippling population decline.

The dawn of the mass extinction coincides with the emergence of the Anthropocene – the geological age defined by human activity as the dominant influence on climate and the environment.