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Sci Rep. 2012;2:268. doi: 10.1038/srep00268. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

An extraterrestrial trigger for the Early Cretaceous massive volcanism? Evidence from the paleo-Tethys Ocean.


The Early Cretaceous Greater Ontong Java Event in the Pacific Ocean may have covered ca. 1% of the Earth's surface with volcanism. It has puzzled scientists trying to explain its origin by several mechanisms possible on Earth, leading others to propose an extraterrestrial trigger to explain this event. A large oceanic extraterrestrial impact causing such voluminous volcanism may have traces of its distal ejecta in sedimentary rocks around the basin, including the paleo-Tethys Ocean which was then contiguous with the Pacific Ocean. The contemporaneous marine sequence at central Italy, containing the sedimentary expression of a global oceanic anoxic event (OAE1a), may have recorded such ocurrence as indicated by two stratigraphic intervals with (187)Os/(188)Os indicative of meteoritic influence. Here we show, for the first time, that platinum group element abundances and inter-element ratios in this paleo-Tethyan marine sequence provide no evidence for an extraterrestrial trigger for the Early Cretaceous massive volcanism.

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