Sci/Tech The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concludes. So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up.

    That doesn’t bode well for the present, given the disturbingly similar rate that our seas are acidifying right now. Parts of the Pacific, for instance, are already so acidic that sea snails’ shells begin dissolving as soon as they’re born.

    The biggest die-off in history, the Permian Extinction event, aka the Great Dying, extinguished over 90 percent of the planet's species—and 96 percent of marine species. A lot of theories have been put forward about why and how, exactly, the vast majority of Earth life went belly up 252 million years ago, but the new study, published in Science, offers some compelling evidence acidification was a key driver.

    A team led by University of Edinburgh researchers collected rocks in the United Arab Emirates that were on the seafloor hundreds of millions of years ago, and used the boron isotopes found within to model the changing levels of acidification in our prehistoric oceans. Through this “combined geochemical, geological, and modeling approach,” the scientists say, they were able to accurately model the series of “perturbations” that unfolded in the era.

    They now believe that a series of gigantic volcanic eruptions in the Siberian Trap spewed a great fountain of carbon into the atmosphere over a period of tens of thousands of years. This was the first phase of the extinction event, in which terrestrial life began to die out.

    Read more here. (Motherboard, Vice)
     

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