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Science. 2015 Jan 9;347(6218):182-4. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa0118. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

Earth history. U-Pb geochronology of the Deccan Traps and relation to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Author information

1
Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. bschoene@princeton.edu.
2
Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.
3
Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
4
Institut des Sciences de la Terre (ISTE), Université de Lausanne, GEOPOLIS, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
5
Department of Geology, Amravati University, Amravati, India.

Abstract

The Chicxulub asteroid impact (Mexico) and the eruption of the massive Deccan volcanic province (India) are two proposed causes of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, which includes the demise of nonavian dinosaurs. Despite widespread acceptance of the impact hypothesis, the lack of a high-resolution eruption timeline for the Deccan basalts has prevented full assessment of their relationship to the mass extinction. Here we apply uranium-lead (U-Pb) zircon geochronology to Deccan rocks and show that the main phase of eruptions initiated ~250,000 years before the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and that >1.1 million cubic kilometers of basalt erupted in ~750,000 years. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the Deccan Traps contributed to the latest Cretaceous environmental change and biologic turnover that culminated in the marine and terrestrial mass extinctions.

PMID:
25502315
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaa0118
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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