Mass extinctions and the marine record

July 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: New studies quantify the impacts of water use on diversity of fish and aquatic insects in NC streams

Related Stories

An Interview with former NASA astronaut Mike Fossum

February 20, 2017

Mike Fossum is a shining example for astronaut wannabes shooting for the stars. His story undeniably proves that dreams of space voyages come true if you have the motivation and courage to pursue them. In an interview with ...

Climate-driven permafrost thaw

February 17, 2017

In bitter cold regions like northwestern Canada, permafrost has preserved relict ground-ice and vast glacial sedimentary stores in a quasi-stable state. These landscapes therefore retain a high potential for climate-driven ...

Recommended for you

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

February 22, 2017

Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the ...

0 comments

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.