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Zircon U-Pb Geochronology Links the End-Triassic Extinction with the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province

Blackburn, Terence J.; Olsen, Paul E.; Bowring, Samuel A.; McLean, Noah M.; Kent, Dennis V.; Puffer, John; McHone, Greg; Rasbury, E. Troy; Et-Touhami, Mohammed

The end-Triassic extinction is characterized by major losses in both terrestrial and marine diversity, setting the stage for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 136 million years. Despite the approximate coincidence between this extinction and flood basalt volcanism, existing geochronologic dates have insufficient resolution to confirm eruptive rates required to induce major climate perturbations. Here, we present new zircon uranium-lead (U-Pb) geochronologic constraints on the age and duration of flood basalt volcanism within the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. This chronology demonstrates synchroneity between the earliest volcanism and extinction, tests and corroborates the existing astrochronologic time scale, and shows that the release of magma and associated atmospheric flux occurred in four pulses over about 600,000 years, indicating expansive volcanism even as the biologic recovery was under way.

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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February 10, 2014
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