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Chicxulub didn't do it all by itself

New special paper from The Geological Society of America

Geological Society of America

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IMAGE: This is the cover of GSA Special Paper 505: Volcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions. view more

Credit: GSA Special Paper 505

Boulder, CO, USA - Geoscientists now overwhelmingly agree that a single large asteroid or comet impact, such as Chicxulub in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, could not have been the sole cause of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Instead, new research in both planetary/space science and multiple earth-science specialties reveals that concomitant volcanic activity and the associated climate and environmental changes were significant contributing factors in four of the five major mass extinctions in Earth history.

In this new book from The Geological Society of America (GSA), editors Gerta Keller of Princeton University and Andrew C. Kerr of Cardiff University write that the "impact-kill scenario no longer seems adequate for the end-Cretaceous or any other mass extinction events."

"Ultimately," they write, "the effects of volcanism, impacts, sea-level and climate changes (warming and cooling), ocean acidification, ocean anoxia, and atmospheric changes have to be considered in any extinction scenario."

They also emphasize that the data drawn from the studies presented in this new GSA volume "hold the keys to help us understand, and cope with, the looming environmental and extinction crises in the modern world."

Special Paper 505 comprises 24 chapters stemming from the international, multidisciplinary conference that took place in March 2013 at London's Natural History Museum (NHM). This conference brought together researchers across geological, geophysical, and biological disciplines to assess the state of research into the causes of mass extinction events.

Chapter topics include:

  • The geological extinction record;
  • The effects of Deccan volcanism;
  • Plants and floral change;
  • What the dinosaur record says about extinction scenarios; and
  • The public impact of impacts.

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Science presented here will also be featured at the upcoming GSA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on 19-22 October:

  • Pardee Keynote Symposium 2: Mass Extinctions: Volcanism, Impacts, and Catastrophic Environmental Changes, Sunday, 19 Oct., https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Session35273.html

  • Technical Session No. 200: Mass Extinctions: Volcanism, Impacts, and Catastrophic Environmental Change II, Tuesday, 21 Oct., https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Session36676.html For more information on this meeting, and for a link to media registration, go to http://community.geosociety.org/gsa2014/home/. Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through The Geological Society of America online store, http://rock.geosociety.org/store/, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service, gsaservice@geosociety.org.

    Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting April Leo, aleo@geosociety.org.

    Volcanism, Impacts, and Mass Extinctions: Causes and Effects
    Gerta Keller and Andrew C. Kerr (editors)
    Geological Society of America Special Paper 505
    SPE505, 455 p., $99.00; Member price $70.00
    ISBN 978-0-8137-2505-5

    View the table of contents: http://rock.geosociety.org/store/TOC/SPE505.pdf

    Read the foreword: http://rock.geosociety.org/store/TOC/spe505-fwd.pdf

    http://rock.geosociety.org/Store/detail.aspx?id=SPE505

    Contact: Kea Giles
    +1-303-357-1057
    kgiles@geosociety.org

    http://www.geosociety.org/

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