Biggest extinction in history caused by climate-changing meteor

Aug 01, 2013
Biggest extinction in history caused by climate-changing meteor

(Phys.org) —It's well known that the dinosaurs were wiped out 66 million years ago when a meteor hit what is now southern Mexico but evidence is accumulating that the biggest extinction of all, 252.3m years ago, at the end of the Permian period, was also triggered by an impact that changed the climate.

While the idea that an impact caused the Permian extinction has been around for a while, what's been missing is a suitable to confirm it. Associate Professor Eric Tohver of the University of Western Australia's School of Earth and Environment believes he has found the which reveals though the trigger was the same, the details are significantly different.

Last year Dr Tohver redated an impact structure that straddles the border of the states of Mato Grosso and Goiás in Brazil, called the Araguainha crater, to 254.7m years, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5m years. Previous estimates had suggested Araguainha was 10m years younger, but Dr Tohver has put it within geological distance of the extinction date.

The Chicxulub crater in Mexico, is 180km in diameter while the Araguainha is 40 kilometres across and was thought to be too small to have caused the which brought about such .

"I have been working with Fred Jourdan at Curtin University and UWA post-doctoral fellow Martin Schmieder to establish better ages for various impact structures in Australia and abroad. We were particularly interested in the Araguainha crater, since the original age determined in the 1990s was relatively close to the Permo-Triassic boundary. The refinements in geochronological techniques that we are applying are helping to reveal the true age of these structures," Dr Tohver said.

The results of an extensive of the Araguainha crater funded by UWA and the Australian Research Council and published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, revealed that a sizeable amount of the rock is oil shale. The researchers calculated that the impact would have generated thousands of earthquakes of up to magnitude 9.9, significantly more powerful than the largest recorded by modern seismologists for hundreds of kilometres around, releasing huge amounts of oil and gas from the shattered rock.

Dr Tohver believes the explosion of methane released into the atmosphere would have resulted in instant global warming, making things too hot for much of the planet's animal life.

"Martin Schmieder and I are currently working on documenting some of the more extreme environmental effects of the impact, including giant tsunamis. In addition, ongoing work with Kliti Grice at Curtin University and her Ph.D. student Ines Melendez will be fundamental to documenting changes in the organic geochemistry of the target rocks," Dr Tohver said.

It's estimated more than 90 per cent of all marine species and about 70 per cent of land-based species disappeared in the Permian .

Explore further: Melting ice cap opening shipping lanes and creating conflict among nations

More information: www.sciencedirect.com/science/… ii/S0016703712001457

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User comments : 32

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deatopmg
1.8 / 5 (20) Aug 01, 2013
oil shale 250 million yrs ago! Fossil oil or non-biologic?
El_Nose
2.1 / 5 (9) Aug 01, 2013
I am curious -- why would it have released oil -- from the shattered rock ?

My understanding was that oil was a by product of organic matter decomposing over millions of years and the oil we are pumping out of the ground was the result of the flora and fuana of 250 M years ago.

If that is so - what oil is expected to be trapped at that point in time?
Tektrix
3.2 / 5 (5) Aug 01, 2013
Interesting!
cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (25) Aug 01, 2013
Zero science here, thank you, come again...
Gmr
2.9 / 5 (14) Aug 01, 2013
Geologic processes did not start with convenience to modern man. Consider that if we are supposedly using oil from 250 mya, that life at the time was already sitting on another 250 million years of moderate sized multicellular ocean life on earth as well, dating at least back to the advent of the cambrian.

Seems like a decent hypothesis, which might be amenable to looking for something like the K-T boundary in era sedimentary rock near the impact site.
VendicarE
3.3 / 5 (16) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid
full_disclosure
1.2 / 5 (21) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot
DistortedSignature
5 / 5 (3) Aug 01, 2013
@El_Nose I'd assume the Cambrian peroid could be a candidate? I'm not sure how much oil they claimed existed at that time but the methane would probably have a more global effect. I'm not a geologist though so I can only speculate.
jackjump
2.1 / 5 (18) Aug 01, 2013
I can see the ad campaign now: The world was fracked into extinction 250 million years ago. Don't let that happen to us today. Stop the fracking.
cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (21) Aug 01, 2013
Please, someone, anyone point to the one iota of science (if there is) included here.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
― Christopher Hitchens

PointyHairedEE
1.3 / 5 (12) Aug 01, 2013
Hey, what happened to the theory (i.e., this report is just another theory) that the cause was volcanic activity from the Siberian Traps?
Gmr
2.9 / 5 (16) Aug 01, 2013
Please, someone, anyone point to the one iota of science (if there is) included here.

Geology? Basic chemistry? Biology? Paleontology? Analysis of isotope distribution?

Oh, I'm sorry. Nothing here to interpret as Electric Derp, so no science, eh?

Okay - the meteor jiggled earth's innards.
Neinsense99
2.4 / 5 (17) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.
Neinsense99
2.2 / 5 (16) Aug 01, 2013
Hey, what happened to the theory (i.e., this report is just another theory) that the cause was volcanic activity from the Siberian Traps?

Well, the theory would have come, but unfortunately it was trapped this morning -- in Siberia.
Caliban
3.9 / 5 (7) Aug 01, 2013
Geologic time scale:

http://geology.com/time.htm

Feel free to check it out. You will observe that the Carboniferous --during which the vast bulk of fossil fuels are supposed to have been formed-- preceded the Permian, to which period this cataclysm has been dated.

I hope that this puts to rest any misunderstanding regarding the presence of oil/gas shale and hence the likely massive contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere and rapid greenhouse warming at the time.
Neinsense99
2.3 / 5 (16) Aug 01, 2013
Geologic time scale:

http://geology.com/time.htm

Feel free to check it out. You will observe that the Carboniferous --during which the vast bulk of fossil fuels are supposed to have been formed-- preceded the Permian, to which period this cataclysm has been dated.

I hope that this puts to rest any misunderstanding regarding the presence of oil/gas shale and hence the likely massive contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere and rapid greenhouse warming at the time.

They don't care about facts, unless it's their own set.
full_disclosure
1 / 5 (19) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!
Shootist
1 / 5 (16) Aug 01, 2013
Name: Araguainha
Region:
Country: Brazil
Continent: South America
Diameter: 40km (~24.9 mile)
Position: W 52° 59' S 16° 47'
Age: 244.40 ± 3.25 Million years
Is exposed
Was NOT drilled

Data from (EID, 2009). (Romano and Crósta, 2004) gives the same coordinates. Orbital radar data in (Theilen-Willige, 1987). Coordinates from Google Earth. Jourdan et al. (2009) reanalyzed earlier reported 40Ar/39Ar age 244.40 ± 3.25 (2?) Ma and suggested a less precise age ~246 Ma. This database asigns the age an conservative uncertainty range of ± 10 %

Araguainha isn't large enough.

Look to the Wilkes Land, Antarctica crater.
Gmr
1.9 / 5 (10) Aug 01, 2013
Hmm. Not sure what Caliban is saying. Best to hold tongue until context established.
Neinsense99
2.1 / 5 (15) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!

Your brow is dragging.
full_disclosure
1.4 / 5 (19) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!

Your brow is dragging.

"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!

Your brow is dragging.


Ha ha....soooo easy to bait ....just loving it.....wanking your idiocy all over this site....careful got some on your face. Ha ha!
Neinsense99
2.3 / 5 (16) Aug 01, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!

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antigoracle
1.4 / 5 (19) Aug 02, 2013
Climate "Science" where pure conjecture is fact.
Gmr
2.2 / 5 (13) Aug 02, 2013
Climate "Science" where pure conjecture is fact.

Science "commenting" where ironic quotes never, /ever/ get old.
Neinsense99
2.3 / 5 (15) Aug 02, 2013
"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!

Your brow is dragging.

"Zero science here," - Can't drive Too Stupid


Idiot

@full_disclosure is a repetitive, one-note orchestra. It sounds as good as it sounds.


Ha Ha!!! Glad you love it......'effing mook!

Your brow is dragging.


Ha ha....soooo easy to bait ....just loving it.....wanking your idiocy all over this site....careful got some on your face. Ha ha!

http://simpsons.w...on_Muntz
Howhot
3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 02, 2013
Climate "Science" deniers where pure fiction is fact.
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2013
Hmm. Not sure what Caliban is saying. Best to hold tongue until context established.


@Gmr,

Merely providing the facts for those who were unsure or didn't know that the hydrocarbon deposits known as fossil fuels were already in the ground prior to this impact, and that, therefore, the scenario described is entirely possible, and quite possibly an accomplished fact.
wwqq
5 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2013
I am curious -- why would it have released oil -- from the shattered rock ?


Oil is formed whenever dead things get burried without decomposing and are slowly heated to about 100 degrees C.

If you don't heat it, you just have kerogen. If you heat a little bit you get something like oil shale. If you heat it just right you get oil. Too much, you get methane and the like.

Oil reservoirs are seldom the source of the oil. The oil migrates upwards through permeable rocks until it gets stuck under some impermeable layer.

Most oil fields date from a few particular periods of time. These coincide with mass-extinctions and anoxic oceans. An oceanic anoxic event is when most of the world's oceans starts to look like the dead zone off the gulf of Mexico. Permian-Triassic was not the first and it was not the last such event. The oldest oil ever found was 3.2 billion years old.
wwqq
5 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2013
And the siberian traps, which span the permian-triassic boundary? The traps("stair-steps") were a flood basalt event the size of western europe. They're massive. (and also happen to be nearly anti-podal to the wilkes land crater)
Gmr
1 / 5 (7) Aug 04, 2013
And the siberian traps, which span the permian-triassic boundary? The traps("stair-steps") were a flood basalt event the size of western europe. They're massive. (and also happen to be nearly anti-podal to the wilkes land crater)

That is taking into account past continental drift, right? I'm assuming so, but it never hurts to ask.
wwqq
5 / 5 (1) Aug 04, 2013
That is taking into account past continental drift, right? I'm assuming so, but it never hurts to ask.


Sort off. The crater is under a thick sheet of ice and there are huge errorbars associated with its date. But it would have been antipodal to the siberan traps at the time when the siberian traps occured.
Howhot
5 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2013
Last year Dr Tohver redated an impact structure that straddles the border of the states of Mato Grosso and Goiás in Brazil, called the Araguainha crater, to 254.7m years, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5m years. Previous estimates had suggested Araguainha was 10m years younger, but Dr Tohver has put it within geological distance of the extinction date.


That shows the time; CO2 is the weapon, and the how and why is asteroid strike for a total Earth wide extinction event. Interesting part is we are already at those levels of CO2 now.