'Volcanic eruptions may have caused mass extinction'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Nov. 1. Recent studies on dating continental flood basalts reveal that huge volcanic eruptions are more likely to have caused mass extinction on Earth rather than asteroid impacts, according to Vincent Courtillot of the University of Paris.

Delivering the Silver Jubilee lecture organised by the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) here today, Prof. Courtillot said meteoric impact would have had little global impact, though it would have caused catastrophic effects at the local level. He said extensive studies of three or four mass extinctions had proved this point.

Prof. Courtillot, who researches plate tectonics and earth geodynamics, said that dating of continental flood basalts had revealed the correlation between mass extinction and volcanic activity. "The presence of Iridium deposits at certain locations show that asteroid impact did occur, but there is nothing to indicate that it had triggered the volcanic activity."

The CESS director, M. Baba, presided over the function.

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