Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Source of Earth's biggest eruptions discovered - 27th July 2011

A half dozen of the most titanic volcanic eruptions in Earth's history — including one potentially linked with the extinction of the dinosaurs — might all stem from the same ancient reservoir of super-hot rock near the Earth's core, scientists have found.

Gigantic deluges of lava known as flood basalts have been linked with mass extinctions throughout history. For instance, a series of colossal volcanic eruptions near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs between 67 million to 63 million years ago created the mammoth Deccan Traps lava beds in India, which originally may have covered as much as 580,000 square miles, more than twice the area of Texas.

The origins of these catastrophic outpourings of lava are unclear. New clues began emerging last year with research into flood basalts that erupted 62 million years ago in Baffin Island (part of the Canadian Arctic) and West Greenland, which suggested they came from a part of the Earth's mantle layer — the hot molten layer between the core and the surface crust — nearly as old as the 4.5 billion-year-old Earth itself.

"It basically survived intact since Earth's core formed," said study researcher Matthew Jackson, a geochemist at Boston University.

Since this ancient rock was seen at one flood basalt, the scientists began investigating samples from five other flood basalts, including the Ontong–Java Plateau in the South Pacific, the result of the largest volcanic event in Earth's history.

"The Ontong-Java Plateau is huge — it's the size of Alaska, and about 30 kilometers, or 20 miles, thick," Jackson said. Read More