Permian Mass Extinction

250 Million years ago, one of the largest earth extinction events took place. Scientists examined the event and some examined the possibility of a flood basalt eruption. where the earth crust opens and allows continual eruption. The theory was that this would release large amounts of CO2. However, when the amount of CO2 release was examined, it did not look like there was enough CO2 release to cause a 10 degree C temperature increase.


Geologic and fossil evidence of the Permian event known as End-P (The end of the Permian period).

Peter Ward - University of Washington



The Day the Earth Nearly Died Part I – BBC


The Day the Earth Nearly Died Part II – BBC


The Day the Earth Nearly Died Part III – BBC


The Day the Earth Nearly Died Part IV – BBC


The Day the Earth Nearly Died Part V – BBC

Since CO2 could only account for about 5 degress C of temperature increase.

Further examination of the geologic record revealed a large amount of 12C

Three distinct extinction events were seen in the paleo record. The first event began close to the eruption event and went on for about 40,000 years. At about 40-45k years there was a sharp extinction event in the ocean of nearly everything in the ocean. The third event went on to about 80k years after the eruption event began.

Analysis of the rock showed that after the marine extinction, but before the final death of everything on the land, there was an increase in Carbon 12. This is not normally produced by rotting plants or animal matter. It is however found in methane hydrates stored in what are known as clathrate traps.

The leading theory is that when the temperature reached about 4-5 degrees C of temperature increase, the methane released from the ocean.

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