Mass extinctions and the marine record

Jul 30, 2007

Mass extinctions have long captured the imagination of scientists and non-scientists alike. A new volume published by the Geological Society of America includes some of the best evidence of the relationship between major environmental changes and changes in life on the planet.

Large Ecosystem Perturbations: Causes and Consequences focuses on evidence from ancient seas across different geological time intervals. Papers contain case studies on a large spectrum of ecosystem changes with varying causes and consequences.

"The interplay between major environmental perturbations and modifications in flora and fauna is best seen in the marine record, which provides very detailed, often complete, documentation of paleobiological changes," said Simonetta Monechi of the Università degli Studi di Firenze in Italy. Monechi is lead editor of the volume, with Rodolfo Coccioni, Università degli Studi di Urbino "Carlo Bo," and Michael R. Rampino, New York University, as co-editors.

Several papers focus on turnovers associated with the Paleocene-Eocene transition 55 million years ago when Earth experienced one of the most rapid and extreme global warming events recorded in geologic history. The small benthic extinction and the plankton turnover caused by the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) led to major changes in mammalian life on land.

Other topics include the calcareous nannofossil change during the early Aptian Oceanic Anoxic Event, a severe Late Devonian mass extinction, and the aftermath of a minor extraterrestrial impact dated as Late Cretaceous in the U.S. Gulf Coastal Plain.

Source: Geological Society of America

Explore further: Historic climate data provided by Mediterranean seabed sediments

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Extreme science in the Arctic

Feb 25, 2015

A research team from Northwestern University was dropped by helicopter in the desolate wilderness of Greenland with four weeks of provisions and the goal of collecting ancient specimens preserved in Arctic lakebeds.

Disappearing lakes stoke megafauna debate

Feb 25, 2015

New research into central Australia's ancient lakes has found evidence that climate change contributed to the extinction of the continent's megafauna.

Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

Feb 25, 2015

On a summer day in 1885, three Hawaiian princes surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on crudely constructed boards made from coastal redwoods, bringing the sport to the North American mainland.

Paleoclimate, proxies, paleosols, and precipitation

Feb 20, 2015

Precipitation reconstructions are essential for predicting impacts of future climate change and preparing for potential changes in terrestrial environmental conditions, such as shifting amounts of regional ...

Recommended for you

Lightning plus volcanic ash make glass

Mar 03, 2015

In their open-access paper for Geology, Kimberly Genareau and colleagues propose, for the first time, a mechanism for the generation of glass spherules in geologic deposits through the occurrence of volcan ...

A new level of earthquake understanding

Mar 03, 2015

As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes? How much is known about them? Until now, our understanding of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.