Flood Basalts: Climatic Implications
Flood basalts represent large-volume, predominantly effusive, eruptions of magma onto the Earth’s surface. The volume of the largest flows exceeds 1,000 km3, some two orders of magnitude greater than the historic basalt flows found on Iceland and Hawaii. Magma contains dissolved volatiles that exsolve as the magma depressurizes and may be released into the atmosphere during and after the eruption. It is these aerosols, a cocktail including dust, H2O, CO2, SO2, HF, and HCl, that have been implicated in climatic change. This has led some authors to propose causative links between flood basalt volcanism, climate change, and mass extinctions (McLean, 1985; Courtillot, 1999; Wignall, 2001). They suggest that dust and volatiles injected into the atmosphere lead to successive, short-term changes in atmospheric composition and temperature, leading ultimately to collapse of global ecosystems. The causative links between large-scale flood basalt volcanism and mass extinctions are,...
- Courtillot, V., 1999. Evolutionary Catastrophes: The Science of Mass Extinction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 173pp.Google Scholar
- IPCC, 2001. Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Houghton, J.T., Ding, Y., Griggs, D.J., Noguer, M., van der Linden, P.J., Dai, X., Maskell K., and Johnson C.A. (eds.), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Sepkoski, J.J., 1996. Patterns of Phanerozoic extinction: A perspective from global data bases. In Walliser, O.H. (ed.), Global Events and Event Stratigraphy. Berlin: Springer, pp. 35–51.Google Scholar
- Shaw, H.R., and Swanson, D.A., 1970. Eruption and flow rates of flood basalt. In Gilmore, E.H., and Stradling, D.F. (eds.), Proceedings of the Second Columbia River Basalt Symposium. Cheney: East Washington State College Press, 271–299.Google Scholar
- Thordarson, Th., and Self, S., 2004. Atmospheric and environmental effects of the 1783–1784 Laki eruption: A review and reassessment. J. Geophys. Res., 108, 1 (20030116), 29pp.Google Scholar