Hot water, low in oxygen, blamed for the former mass extinction


Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press

Published Thursday, December 6, 2018 2:26 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists believe they have discovered the fall of the dominoes that led to the mass extinction of Earth and fear that man-made climate change will put the planet on a vaguely similar path.

About 250 million years ago, about 90% of marine life and 70% of terrestrial life were extinguished in what is now called the Great Death. Scientists have long speculated that massive volcanic explosions triggered the cataclysmic event, but how that worked out was still a bit confusing.

A new study published in the journal Science used complex computational simulations to chart what happened after the volcanoes exploded: this led to ocean temperatures rising about 20 degrees (11 degrees Celsius), which then deprived sea water of oxygen. That hot, oxygen-free water caused marine mortality.


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