The volcanoes, such as The Palm, have catastrophic consequences. Throughout history there are many examples of volcanological events that have struck down entire cities. Including the flora and fauna of the affected areas. But there have also been some positive consequences. In fact, it appears that dinosaurs they had a lot to thank them for. At least that is the conclusion of a study that has just been published in PNAS, by the hand of a team of scientists from the University of Birmingham.
The research was carried out in the basin of Jiyuan, in China, where the signals of four large volcanic pulses were detected, which occurred more than 230 million years, that could give a drastic change to the weather.
This can be negative for some species, but very positive for others. And, in the case of the dinosaurs, which were just beginning to walk on Earth, it could be that little push they needed to become the species dominant in which they ended up becoming.
When fossils speak
The authors of this study analyzed animal and plant fossils using an alternative to carbon dating, known as carbon dating. uranium-lead in zircon. It is the oldest dating method, but also one of the most reliable if done correctly. Therefore, these scientists were able to detect a series of very specific events, which began ago 234 million years and they extended during two million more years.
There were some extinctions, while other species diversified
For example, they gave selective extinctions in the marine environment, as well as the diversification of numerous groups of plants and animals on earth. For example, the first groups of modern conifers and the evolution of ferns, crocodiles, turtles, insects, as well as the first mammals. And all this seems to be that it paved the way for the dinosaurs, which were beginning to diversify, pushing them towards a ecological domain in the next 150 million years.
The techniques mentioned, along with others such as palynology, which analyzes fossilized pollen, and the chemostratography, with which changes in the chemical composition of the different layers of soil sediments are detected, they were able to verify that all this occurred in four very marked pulses, which coincided with four volcanic eruptions. The volcanoes in question, as explained in a statement, would be located in the current great igneous province of Wrangellia, west of North America. But how could they bring about all these changes?
This is how the volcanoes changed the climate
We could think that volcanoes favored the extinction of some species due to the fall of rivers of lava on their habitat. But we have already seen that not only extinctions were detected. Some species diversified to the point of being favored, as it seems to have happened with the dinosaurs
Large amounts of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere
The cause, as explained in the study, would be in the large amounts of carbon dioxide that would be released during eruptions. This is just one of the many gases that are generated in these events. However, its effect, if generated in large quantity, is very remarkable in itself. We already know that it is a powerful gas of greenhouse effect, as are others volcanic gases. And that means that it can cause an increase in global temperatures, by preventing the dissipation of solar radiation that returns to the atmosphere from the earth’s surface.
In addition, there must have been a large increase in humidity. All this would lead to intense increases in rainfall, framed in a period called Carnian Pluvial Episode of the Late Triassic, in which a specific event was included, known as the Great Monsoon. All in favor of the dinosaurs, which nature paved the way for them, to then destroy them at once. This is nature, as fascinating as it is terrifying. Of course, not as scary for ecosystems as some human actions.