End-Triassic Extinction Conditions Eerily Similar To Modern Climate Change

The end-Triassic extinction event was caused by similar conditions to modern day climate change, according to a new study. Scientists are still trying to figure out what really killed the dinosaurs with the standing theory pointing to a planet-killer asteroid that impacted the Gulf of Mexico approximately 66 million years ago. Needless to say, the reason for an extinction event that happened 200 million years ago is even harder to pinpoint.

The phrase “climate change” is mostly associated with the impact humans have had on the planet and its environment since the first Industrial Revolution. However, the planet has undergone several climate change events throughout its 4.5 billion years of existence. All of these climate change events were driven by natural processes, some examples include the Ice Age and several Glacier periods.

Related: The Dinosaurs Died In The Dark, New Study Says

As explained by Phys.org, researchers from Curtin University's School of Earth and Planetary Science say they have uncovered the two triggers that caused the end-Triassic extinction. According to the researchers, ocean acidification and carbon emissions provided the double-deadly blow. Surprisingly, these two triggers are the two main factors driving climate change today. The difference between the Triassic period event and today’s climate change is that the first was caused by natural phenomenon, volcanic activity, and violent sea-floor spreading, and not by humans.

The planet would be unrecognizable 250 million years ago. There were no continents, just the mega-continent Pangea surrounded by oceans. Even today, continents are not fixed, but a result of the tectonic plates that float on inner-Earth’s magma and lava. Volcanic activity above ocean waters created land then, and still does today. In the depths of the ocean, tectonic plates crash in different ways creating new ocean crust. 200 million years ago, the tectonic activity was so extreme that it began splitting Pangea up into two large continents, Laurasia and Gondwana.

Researchers of Curtin Univesity studied microscopic fossils preserved in rock found in the Bristol Channel Basin, in the United Kingdom. “We identified the twin mechanisms responsible for the mass extinction,” the researchers said, added that intense planetary tectonic activity released carbon emissions. In turn,  this affected the atmosphere and the ocean’s acid levels. Ocean acidification affected the key species of the ocean food webs with corals, mussels, oysters dying off. As hydrogen sulfide levels increased, a cascading domino effect on life networks was created, resulting in the massive extinction.

Dr. Calum Peter Fox said that the real triggers of the mass extinction of the Triassic were unknown until now, while co-author Professor Kliti Grice explained that the findings can “help us understand the current global warming crisis and how we can protect our deteriorating ecosystems and environment.” Continents today are still moving, but so slowly that it's the least of scientific concern, especially compared to carbon emissions and ocean acidification.

Next: Meet A New Type Of Green Energy, Gravity

Source: Phys.org

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