Scientists agree that a massive killer asteroid, approximately nine miles wide, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico around 66 million years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs.
However, what if the asteroid named Chicxulub was not the sole cause of the extinction of dinosaurs, but rather the final blow in a long-term climate catastrophe? Scientists have been investigating the theory that extensive volcanic activity during that time period may have played a significant role in the mass extinction event.
A recent study by scientists from North America and Europe supports the theory that volcanic eruptions in India released a significant amount of sulfur into the atmosphere, leading to a worldwide decrease in temperature and significant changes in ecosystems.
The scientists focused on the Deccan Traps in western India, an area in the subcontinent characterized by rocky plateaus made from solidified molten lava from ancient volcanic eruptions.
By studying the lava piles and performing calculations, they were able to determine that volcanic activity soon before Chicxulub struck Earth was spitting out large amounts of sulfur — so much sulfur that it was deeply stressing the environment. These brief episodes that occurred prior to the Chicxulub event may have had a significant impact on ecosystems worldwide.
The volcanic activity of the Deccan Traps caused environmental conditions to worsen and created short periods of volcanic winters, which had a detrimental effect on plant and animal life. These repeated disturbances likely played a role in the extinction of dinosaurs.
The theory suggesting that volcanic activity played a significant role in the extinction of dinosaurs adds complexity to our understanding of that time period. It implies that the asteroid impact may have been just an additional catastrophic event.
Reference- National Geographic, New Paper In The Journal Science Advances, Astronomy Magazine, Dartmouth website