Ancient Rocks Can Reveal How Volcanoes Unleashed the Mother of All Extinctions

environment, science
volcano unleashes mother of all extinctions
volcano unleashes mother of all extinctions (Click here for original source image)

Ancient rocks have revealed how volcanoes unleashed the mass extinction that affected the dinosaurs. Volcanoes, once thought to be a safe place for animals to live, have been linked to the rise of millions of killer hurricanes as well as a string of other natural disasters over the past century. The ancient rocks tell us that after a massive volcanic eruption, layers of volcanic ash and lava were deposited in the oceans around the world. When these massive amounts of ash and lava entered the ocean, they mixed with water and chemicals from the ocean’s depths and caused extremely heavy storms.

This mixture was picked up by the wind, carried away by the currents, and dumped on land where it darkened the land and turned the once green landscape into a dead zone known as a black forest.

When the giant volcanic eruptions occurred, the animals that lived in the rock layers were wiped out. Over the last century and a half, we’ve only seen remnants of these ancient animals in museums, thanks to careful analysis of fossilized animal bones from amber and sea shells. The same thing happened to the earth’s climate, with catastrophic volcanic eruptions washing away much of the ice and snow that kept the planet’s temperature stable. The greenhouse gases that resulted from this runaway process set off a chain reaction, accelerating the earth’s temperatures to what is considered a paleo-melt, one of the largest geological shifts ever recorded.