Tags: acidic | oceans | great | dying

Acidic Oceans May Have Caused 'Great Dying' 252M Years Ago

By    |   Friday, 10 Apr 2015 09:36 AM

Acidic oceans created by huge carbon dioxide-spewing volcanic eruptions may have caused the greatest life extinction on Earth about 252 million years ago, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

The Permian-Triassic "Great Dying" mass extinction killed off more than 90 percent of Earth's marine species and more than two-thirds of land-living animals, reported the BBC News. The study said the extinction stretched over a 60,000-year period and acid-filled oceans lasted for about 10,000 years.

The study used chemical evidence from rocks located in the United Arab Emirates, reported Nature magazine.

Matthew Clarkson, a geochemist at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, told Nature that powerful volcanoes in Siberia churned out carbon dioxide at such levels in a short period of time that the oceans could not absorb it all.

"There was already enormous pressure on life on the oceans," Clarkson told Nature. "And suddenly we have what appears to be a rapid volcanic eruption, the final blow that drove the acidification."

Rachel Wood, a University of Edinburgh geoscientist and one of the researchers involved in the study, told Reuters the rock discovery was key in their investigation.

"This is significant because we believe our modern oceans are becoming similarly acidic," said Wood. "These findings may help us understand the threat posed to marine life by modern-day ocean acidification."

Clarkson told Nature, though, the "Great Dying" period represents a "worst-case scenario" for Earth if carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise.

Clarkson told BBC News that quick release of carbon dioxide was an important factor in poisoning the oceans.

"Scientists have long suspected that an ocean acidification event occurred during the greatest mass extinction of all time, but direct evidence has been lacking until now," said Clarkson.

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Acidic oceans created by huge carbon dioxide-spewing volcanic eruptions may have caused the greatest life extinction on Earth about 252 million years ago, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
acidic, oceans, great, dying
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2015-36-10
Friday, 10 Apr 2015 09:36 AM
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