The PR is in: the ‘may haves’ have it at NSF

From the National Science Foundation, another bit of Speculative Science™ note the caveat in bold, which is all they need for a headline that screams certainty:

This sudden release of gases into the atmosphere may have created intense global warming, and acidification of the oceans, which ultimately killed off thousands of plant and animal species.

See below for the alternate scenario based on the same press release.

Press Release 13-046
Before Dinosaurs’ Era, Volcanic Eruptions Triggered Mass Extinction

Increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, ocean acidification killed 76 percent of species on Earth

Road passing through snow covered ancient rocks in Hartford Basin, Conn.Back to the future? Ancient rocks in Hartford Basin, Conn., offer a look into geologic time.
Credit and Larger Version

March 21, 2013

More than 200 million years ago, a massive extinction decimated 76 percent of marine and terrestrial species, marking the end of the Triassic period and the onset of the Jurassic.

The event cleared the way for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 135 million years, taking over ecological niches formerly occupied by other marine and terrestrial species.

It’s not clear what caused the end-Triassic extinction, although most scientists agree on a likely scenario.

Over a relatively short time period, massive volcanic eruptions from a large region known as the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) spewed forth huge amounts of lava and gas, including carbon dioxide, sulfur and methane.

This sudden release of gases into the atmosphere may have created intense global warming, and acidification of the oceans, which ultimately killed off thousands of plant and animal species.

Now, researchers at MIT, Columbia University and other institutions have determined that these eruptions occurred precisely when the extinction began, providing strong evidence that volcanic activity did indeed trigger the end-Triassic extinction.

Results of the research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), are published this week in the journal Science.

“These scientists have come close to confirming something we had only guessed at: that the mass extinction of this ancient time was indeed related to a series of volcanic eruptions,” says Lisa Boush, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.

“The effort is also the result of the EARTHTIME initiative, an NSF-sponsored project that’s developing an improved geologic time scale for scientists to interpret Earth’s history.”

The scientists determined the age of basaltic lavas and other features found along the East Coast of the United States, as well as in Morocco–now-disparate regions that, 200 million years ago, were part of the supercontinent Pangaea.

The rift that ultimately separated these landmasses was also the site of CAMP’s volcanic activity.

Today, the geology of both regions includes igneous rocks from the CAMP eruptions as well as sedimentary rocks that accumulated in an enormous lake. The researchers used a combination of techniques to date the rocks and to pinpoint CAMP’s beginning and duration.

From its measurements, they reconstructed the region’s volcanic activity 201 million years ago, discovering that the eruption of magma–along with carbon dioxide, sulfur and methane–occurred in repeated bursts over a period of 40,000 years, a short span in geologic time.

“This extinction happened at a geological instant in time,” says Sam Bowring, a geologist at MIT. “There’s no question the extinction occurred at the same time as the first eruption.”

In addition to Bowring, the paper’s co-authors are Terrence Blackburn and Noah McLean of MIT; Paul Olsen and Dennis Kent of Columbia; John Puffer of Rutgers University; Greg McHone, an independent researcher from New Brunswick, N.J.; E. Troy Rasbury of Stony Brook University; and Mohammed Et-Touhami of the Université Mohammed Premier (Mohammed Premier University) Oujda, Morocco.

Blackburn is the paper’s lead author.

More than a coincidence

The end-Triassic extinction is one of five major mass extinctions in the last 540 million years of Earth’s history.

For several of these events, scientists have noted that large igneous provinces, which provide evidence of widespread volcanic activity, arose at about the same time.

But, as Bowring points out, “just because they happen to approximately coincide doesn’t mean there’s cause and effect.”

For example, while massive lava flows overlapped with the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, scientists have linked that extinction to an asteroid collision.

“If you want to make the case that an eruption caused an extinction, you have to be able to show at the highest possible precision that the eruption and the extinction occurred at exactly the same time,” Bowring says.

For the time of the end-Triassic, Bowring says that researchers have dated volcanic activity to right around the time fossils disappear from the geologic record, providing evidence that CAMP may have triggered the extinction.

But these estimates have a margin of error of one to two million years. “A million years is forever when you’re trying to make that link,” Bowring says.

For example, it’s thought that CAMP emitted a total of more than two million cubic kilometers of lava.

If that amount of lava were spewed over a period of one to two million years, it wouldn’t have the same effect as if it were emitted over tens of thousands of years.

“The timescale over which the eruption occurred has a big effect,” Bowring says.

Tilting toward extinction

To determine how long the volcanic eruptions lasted, the group combined two dating techniques: astrochronology and geochronology.

The former is a technique that links sedimentary layers in rocks to changes in the tilt of the Earth.

For decades, scientists have observed that the Earth’s orientation changes in regular cycles as a result of gravitational forces exerted by neighboring planets.

The Earth’s axis tilts at regular cycles, returning to its original tilt every 26,000 years. Such orbital variations change the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, which in turn has an effect on the planet’s climate, known as Milankovich cycles.

This cyclical change in climate can be seen in the types of sediments deposited in the Earth’s crust.

Scientists can determine a rock’s age by first identifying cyclical variations in deposition of sediments in quiet bodies of water, such as deep oceans or large lakes.

A cycle of sediment corresponds with a cycle of the Earth’s tilt, established as a known period of years.

By seeing where a rock lies in those sedimentary layers, scientists can get a good idea of how old it is. To obtain precise estimates, researchers have developed mathematical models to determine the Earth’s tilt over millions of years.

Bowring says the technique is good for directly dating rocks up to 35 million years old, but beyond that, it’s unclear how reliable the technique is.

He and colleagues used astrochronology to estimate the age of the sedimentary rocks, then tested those estimates against high-precision dates from 200-million-year-old rocks in North America and Morocco.

The geologists broke apart rock samples to isolate tiny crystals known as zircons, which they analyzed to determine the ratio of uranium to lead.

The technique enabled the team to date the rocks to within approximately 30,000 years–a precise measurement in geologic terms.

Taken together, the geochronology and astrochronology techniques gave the geologists precise estimates for the onset of volcanism 200 million years ago.

The techniques revealed three bursts of magmatic activity over 40,000 years–a short period of time during which massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other gas emissions may have drastically altered Earth’s climate.

While the evidence is the strongest thus far for linking volcanic activity with the end-Triassic extinction, Bowring says that more work can be done.

“The CAMP province extends from Nova Scotia all the way to Brazil and West Africa,” he says. “I’m dying to know whether those are exactly the same age.”

-NSF-

=============================================================

I can play this game, using their paragraph:

This sudden release of gases into the atmosphere may have created intense global warming, and acidification of the oceans, which ultimately killed off thousands of plant and animal species.

Change a couple of words, and we have a whole new plausible scenario:

This sudden release of ash, soot, and stratospheric aerosols (like SO2) into the atmosphere may have created intense global cooling, due to blocked sunlight, which ultimately killed off thousands of plant and animal species.

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82 thoughts on “The PR is in: the ‘may haves’ have it at NSF

  1. If in fact Pangaea was split up, what was the effect on the earth’s position to and journey around the sun?

    Would not a slight change is the orbit have a profound effect on the climate?

  2. Myron Mesecke says:
    March 22, 2013 at 10:32 am
    “But that wouldn’t be the ‘devine’ spin if they wrote it your way.”

    In climatism, the trend is your friend. Wait five years and the spin might go the other way.

  3. Hey you need grant money- just say the magic words” “Carbon” ” Acidification”. “Global Warming”.
    and presto changeo -funds magically appear…

  4. The NSF is rebranding itself as the NSDF, the National Science Drama Foundation. This particular press release makes one wonder if we are in “sweeps week.”

  5. Mt Tambora = Global cooling
    Mt Pinatubo = Global cooling

    I think Anthony’s “spin” may be closer to the truth.

  6. Siberian Traps, anyone? Several hundred thousand years of huge crevasse volcanoes spewing magma and a noxious mix of CO2 and sulfur dioxide? “Pink water”?

    Any of that ring any bells?

    And anyway, don’t complain. If it hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t exist.

  7. “Press Release 13-046
    Before Dinosaurs’ Era, Volcanic Eruptions Triggered Mass Extinction”

    Typically shoddy headline writing, as there were plenty of Triassic dinosaurs, & they already dominated certain Late Triassic terrestrial environments. There were also Jurassic & Cretaceous environments which they didn’t dominate, depending upon what that term might mean.

    Also, as Anthony notes, global cooling from aerosols & SO2 remains a plausible explanation. Nor can asteroid impact be ruled out. Although a crater from near the T/J EE in France is considered too small, there might have been other impacts at the same time, the craters of which haven’t been found or have been covered by sea floor spreading. Admittedly the latter possibility is speculative & would require more supporting evidence than has emerged to date, AFAIK.

    Rifting alone & continents separating would naturally affect species locally.

  8. All science writing requires the use of the conditional, because there are no absolutes in science. It is why even some of the media knew Gore’s statement that “the debate is over, the science is settled”, was wrong.

    The deception about certainty is premeditated and exploited in extreme environmentalism; witness Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace’s comment that “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” The choice to avoid the truth was proposed in climate science with Stephen Schneider’s comment to Discover magazine in 1989:

    “On the one hand we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but, which means that we must include all the doubts, caveats, ifs and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well. And like most people, wed like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the publics imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This double ethical bind which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

    There is no decision. Since when was there a need for a balance between the truth and a lie? For Schneider it is when the end justifies the means. But science can only function when it is amoral and apolitical and must constantly strive to be both.

  9. I thought that the standard was that a large volcanic eruption leads to cooling. This is the continued claim and is the the reason given for any cooling ‘not in the models’. Indeed we are told that a large volcanic eruption would lead to the equivalent of a ‘nuclear winter’. 1816 – was called “The year without a summer” and that is blamed on the eruption of Mt Tambora.

    So are they in a ‘warm snow’ mode with hot vs cold volcanic effects?

  10. Again, when I read these sorts of things, I become less and less averse to humankind having a hand in it’s own extinction event. Go ahead, strip the climate security blanket (CO2) from the 1/2 precession-cycle old late Holocene atmosphere and perhaps, in so doing, remove the only supposed speedbump to the next ice age. The next iteration of the genus Homo may come to thank you for it.

    Just imagine, for a moment, continuation of the species Mann……….

  11. That makes two of the five major extinctions related to large magma plume eruptions.

    Volcanic cooling, fires and poisonous gases from unbelievably large eruptive events lasting for 40,000 years (Jurassic) to 3 million years (Permian).

    Why is it so hard for the scientists to just state the obvious.

  12. When I was a kid, and very much into Dinosaurs, I read that the prevailing ideas about volcanic eruptions causing extinction would be due to ash, etc. in the air blocking sunlight, causing not warming or cooling, but ruining plant growth… and so everything on up the food chain suffered and died from starvation.
    It makes a lot more sense to me than thousands of years of activity slowly cooking or freezing things away or whatever else. How many plants can survive more than a few months with insufficient light?

  13. One indicator of which side is winning the CAGW debate is the level of public derision when magic incantations are uttered.

    Puzzling to me why announcements like the subject of this article don’t get a rougher ride, but in the long run, truth will out. We wait.

  14. Dating zircons in sediments will not tell you the age of the sediment. It tells you the age when the zircon crystallised in its original igneous rock.

    As for the rest of it, they looked like Mannian dating techniques to me.

  15. The last paragraph above shows that any connection in the above with global warming is the most tenuous, and of course political rather than scientific, speculation. But much worse, the description of the Earth’s “tilt” is described carelessly and incompetently (the 26,000 year period is just the precession period, and changes in Earth’s obliquity, or axial tilt, within that period would have no effect whatsoever upon the amount of solar energy reaching any part of the Earth, over a year’s time). Worst of all, the Earth’s spin axis has been in precessional motion around the current ecliptic north pole for only 17,000 years, substantially less than even one precession period (see the simplest, definitive evidence in my 2009 blog post, Challenge to Science III: The “gods”, the Design, and Man), when the “Great Design of the ‘gods'”, as I call it, was made. The current paradigm, of undirected evolution of the Earth’s surface, is obsolete and incompetent, as are all of the hyped “discoveries” now, like the above.

  16. Apart from the ash and sulfate aerosols, extreme volcanism should also release enormous amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4), with smaller but still large amounts of HF, HBr, and HI. Most of the acid vapors would stay in the troposphere.

    These mineral acids would deposit as extremely acid rain, probably overwhelm the carbonate/borate buffer in the upper layers of the ocean, and cause really extreme acidification. Something similar would happen on land. One would guess collapse of the food chain, because the calcareous diatoms would not survive. Nor would most land vegetation.

    Eventually, the marine acid would get buffered away by carbonate runoff from the land. Calcareous and siliceous diatoms that may have survived in cryptic locations would repopulate after the marine pH became greater than about 6 (marine pH is typically about 8.1 these days, and probably then, too).

    The combination of aerosol cooling, as Anthony has it, plus the huge pulse of mineral acids, are all one needs for a global extinction event. The same consequences (ash + acid) are released by a large bolide impact.

    Released CO2 and methane are more likely small actors in the scenario, with negligible impact. The early Triassic already had about 1000 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. The end Triassic about 3000 ppm. Given CO2 saturation, the change in forcing is of small relative importance. The CO2 may actually help ameliorate the bad conditions by accelerating the solubility of surface carbonates, for runoff into the oceans.

    I remember reading an estimate that, after the KT bolide impact, which had similar consequences, Earth ecology returned to normal by 1 million years. That’s fast by biogeological standards, but of course was of small comfort to the killed and the extinct.

  17. It’s funny that when a big volcano goes off today scientists talk of tropospheric cooling and stratospheric warming. 40,000 years of violent spewing of aerosols into the atmosphere is no chump change for land animals.

  18. A small amount of aerosols and sulphur dioxide is enough to stop the current global warming in the warmists view.

    So at the end of the Triassic we had both warming (CO2, methane) and cooling (aerosols and sulphur dioxide). The cooling elements were much, much greater than at present.

    Modelling should break out how much effect each hasI guess. (Right.)

  19. Bill Illis says: Why is it so hard for the scientists to just state the obvious?

    Jurassic Pork

  20. Ian W says:
    March 22, 2013 at 11:02 am
    I thought that the standard was that a large volcanic eruption leads to cooling. This is the continued claim and is the the reason given for any cooling ‘not in the models’. Indeed we are told that a large volcanic eruption would lead to the equivalent of a ‘nuclear winter’. 1816 – was called “The year without a summer” and that is blamed on the eruption of Mt Tambora.

    So are they in a ‘warm snow’ mode with hot vs cold volcanic effects?

    Anybody remember Carl Sagan (AKA “Butthead Astronomer) and his “nuclear winter” scare?

  21. It’s funny that if we got some huge volcanoes going off then Warmists would blame that for any temperature downturn, yet I read volcanoes may have led to intense global warming. How does it warm when far less of the Sun’s rays get through? I’m just not getting this at all.

    Let’s see if James Hansen can help me out here.

    Dr. James Hansen et. al.
    ……The simulations indicate that Pinatubo occurred too late in the year to prevent 1991 from becoming one of the warmest years in instrumental records, but intense aerosol cooling is predicted to begin late in 1991 and to maximize late in 1992. The predicted cooling is sufficiently large that by mid 1992 it should even overwhelm global warming associated with an El Nino that appears to be developing,…..

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/91GL02788/abstract

  22. “This sudden release of gases into the atmosphere may have created intense global warming, and acidification of the oceans, which ultimately killed off thousands of plant and animal species.”

    An alien space craft may have landed in Roswell NM in 1947.
    Big foot may have kidnapped Jimmy Hoffa.
    Elvis may have been kidnapped by aliens
    Michel Jackson may have been an alien.
    This is a fun game.

  23. They kind of miss the obvious – which is the question that with an increasing CO2 level in the atmosphere (all our fault, of course /sarc), why are we still in a period of ice ages?

    Ran across an post on Volcanocafe last year that suggests that the hot spot responsible for the Siberian Traps (250 MY ago) is still active and sits underneath Iceland today. Volumes of material are impressive. Note that the Permian – Triassic extinction event was around 50 MY before the event being talked about in this.

    https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/the-icelandic-hotspot-hypervolcano-why-old-traps-wont-erupt-again/comment-page-1/

    Cheers -

  24. Interesting.
    But, just why did those volcanoes erupt?

    Conjecture:
    If one hypothesizes that the volcanic eruptions that seem to be coincident with the Chicxulub meteor event were in fact caused by the meteor one could have an interesting theory:
        huge meteor impacts cause a “ringing of the bell” of planet earth with the momentum causing eruptions on the opposite side.

    Think Hawaiian hot spot, Yellowstone, breakup of Pangea, Siberian Traps, etc caused by, now lost, hits or opposite side from a hit, by a huge object.

  25. There was a time when “may have” were the words of somebody trying to make interesting hypothesis.
    Now “may have” is a free letter to rain any carbonatsis nonsense on the poor reader, doesn’t matter how absurd the case is.
    In any case one think is sure: the extinction was not caused by global warming caused by CO2. There have been huge ppm CO2 in the atmosphere at the time:

    A doubling of the CO2 from 5000 ppm to 10000 ppm would have changed the global temperature with about 1°C if this sensibility is proved right. No danger of extinctions due to this? From 2500 pmm to 5000 ppm the same? So what global warming?
    Thinking at the cooling that accompanies volcanic eruptions – as correctly mentioned in the article – due to the aerosols, one asks himself what cool-aid have these guys drank or maybe they smoked it?

  26. I remember a book I read as a child (ca. 10 years old, a long time ago)
    about the geologic eras. This book used the image of a geologic time clock
    dividing eras. I was particularly struck by the phrasing the authors used for
    describing the upsurge in volcanic activity at the boundary between the
    Permian and the Triassic:

    “As the geologic time clock began to strike again, its peals would
    have gone unheard, for they were drowned in the thunderous roar of moving
    mountains. The Ring of Fire around the Pacific burst into violent eruption
    from end to end. Enormous eruptions in Siberia … formed the Central Siberian
    Plateau…”

  27. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

    The NSF is rebranding itself as the NSDF, the National Science Drama Foundation….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I thought those new intitials stood for the Non-Scientific Dramatic Fanatics

  28. This study has zip, nada, to do with CAGW.
    It is plausible, although far from certain. Trilobites DID go extinct after a great almost 400 million year run. So something bad happened then, and the breakup of Pangea was BAD. But maybe not causative.
    You diminish your excellent arguments about the present by denigrating altogether other possible arguments about the distant past. I would have hoped better from the so called scientiific skeptic denizens of this important blog.
    Regards from a lukewarmist agnostic, who only goes where real data leads independent of personal, political, or religious inclinations. And who is perfectly willing to call out fellow travelers based on sound underlying principals. As regrettably now.

  29. @Theo – are you sure you don’t mean the NSDAP “National Socialist Delusional Asinine People”? Of course those initials also stand for another organization of similar repute.

  30. Jimbo, Susan Corwin – I’m with you. Next you know man’s CO2 emissions TODAY will be blamed for the Permian and Triassic extinctions – and probably for the chicxulub event as well.

  31. They key here is what they mean by ‘sudden’ and ‘rapid’. 40,000 years or so is not a big deal geologically, but in human terms it is.

    I have no issue with the correlation between large igneous provinces and mass extinctions, as there does seem to be a good correlation, but if it takes 40,000 years of large eruptions to make a good mass extinction, it just confirms that we don’t need to worry about puny human emissions over the scale of hundreds of years.

  32. Rud Istvan says (March 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm)
    This study has zip, nada, to do with CAGW.
    ———
    As extracted in a T&N comment I made earlier, perhaps someone should tell the scientists and media:-

    “New rock dating techniques have helped narrow the timeframe of a chain of massive volcanic eruptions that wiped out half the world’s species 200 million years ago, a study said Thursday.”

    “They may offer a historic parallel to the human-caused climate change happening today, by showing how sharp increases in carbon dioxide can outpace vulnerable species’ ability to adapt, researchers said.”

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/ancient-megavolcanoes-killed-half-worlds-species-181230077.html#FQbEczx

  33. Once again I would like to point out that “decimated” means to cut by 10%. It does not mean devastated, it does not mean destroyed, it means “dec…”, as in decimal or decade, decimeter and December if Julius and Augustus didn’t stick their names in there.
    Mat Ridley even made this mistake in that video recently.

  34. First: Anthony’s cooling fits with what we observe after big eruptions.
    Second: nobody seems to have picked up on the simultaneous emission of carbon dioxide and methane. I have not found a source including methane in volcanic emissions. I suggest that if a globally significant volume of methane at 1000 degrees celcius was released into the atmoshere,
    better run! Check out research into converting methane into methanol; violent explosion is the main problem. These guys seem to have simply grabbed a rag bag of green house gases without any thought.
    Finally and pedantically: “decimated 75%” is an oxymoron. “Destroy” any percentage you like but if you are into decimation you are restricted to 10% no more and no less. It’s a punishment!

  35. I have to agree with Anthony. IF volcanic activity was the root cause of all those extinctions, it is far more likely that the mechanism was soot, ash, intense cooling and a shut-down of the plant cycle, leading to massive starvation of the animal populations, than any warming scenario. The “year without a summer” is, after all, the pattern that we’ve seen (admittedly, to a lesser extent) in the aftermath of massive volcanic eruptions during the human-historical record.

  36. garymount says:
    March 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    You are arguing correct usage against popular usage. Correct usage almost never wins.

  37. Massive eruptions tend to COOL the planet, not warm it up.

    The massive amounts of SO2 pumped into the atmosphere mixes with H2O to form H2SO4 (sulfuric acid), which greatly increases the cloud albedo effect and lowers ocean pH. Tropospheric/stratospheric volcanic particulates also increase Earth’s albedo and starves plants of sunlight leading to plant/animal extinctions.

    Grant whores’ fixation with CO2 “related” “research” skews so many “scientific” conclusions rendering the research useless.

    I’ll be ecstatic when the CAGW hoax is finally dead and buried so the scientific community can get back to conducting REAL science rather than chasing/wasting $billions of taxpayer money on bogus political agendas.

  38. Decimate has two senses. Sense 2 Eliminate, annihilate, extinguish, eradicate, wipe out, decimate, carry off — (kill in large numbers…(usage)) Wordnet 3.0.

    Also
    Sense 1 To destroy or kill a large portion of. Britannica World Language edition of Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary.

  39. I am just so sorry to have speak to you today.

    “May Have” is a definite and probably never.

    And the USA citizens payed and died for this.

    Sad.

  40. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I, for one, would far rather be correct than popular.

  41. Egad, has anyone looked at the varying models of astronomical “forcing” for the Pleistocene? And they want to project this mess back 100x?

    Folks need to make more wine. It teaches about the “dioxides”, Carbon and Sulfur. Take a deep breath of CO2 from a fermenting must and you feel good, kind of the buzz you get from “carbonated” beverages. An equal whiff of SO2 would put you in anaphylactic shock. It is used because it kills bloody EVERYTHING.

    Current volcanoes differ considerably in the proportions of CO2 and SO2 emitted. Current research is fixated on SO2 as a condensation nucleus. I’d love to give those guys a whiff of my stock sulfite solution.

  42. Is there also the possibility that the onset of volcanism 200 million years ago and the purported asteroid impact could have been connected?

  43. This “sudden release of gas” from the National Science Foundation shows that in the game of climate, volcanos are a very versatile wild card or joker. If we have recent cooling contrary to warming predictions, a volcano can be blamed. If we have a past mass extinction and the need arises to contrive a way to show that this was caused by CO2, then volcanos feature again!

  44. phlogiston says:
    March 23, 2013 at 12:30 am

    But, where are the “excessive” and “massive” volcanoes since 1997-1998? Since Pinatubo actually?

    Those volcanoes had a measurable and credible impact on the world’s temperature. But only for a 18 month period. After 2 years, there is NO impact.

    We have been flat-lining climate deniers since 1996. And there have been no exceptional or even noteworthy or newsworthy volcanoes or high-volcanic regions in that entire time. Eruptions? A few. None have made the evening news but for the Iceland eruption … and that slowed within 2 weeks. 1 day of air traffice impact.

  45. Susan Corwin says: March 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm The trigger?
    You beat me to this point. Time zone problem. Yes indeed, what caused the atypical motion of the CAMP estimate of 2 million cubic km of lava?
    At present, there is a crust over most of the Earth that is at the temperature of the water or air above it. If you open a rift and spew forth that quantity of hot rock, you will change the geothermal gradient in its vicinity by an enormous amount. This is prime material for modellers. In the time given, how much temperature change would be caused by the efflux of these hot rocks from below the surface, to the surface? Would this cool the Earth? In the gross sense, yes, because it would speed the flow of energy from under the crust towards the atmosphere. It’s a heat release mechanism. Therefore, one might expect it to heat the atmosphere on its way out, although other effects might add to, or subtract from the equation as mentioned by several above. We simply don’t know, because the data are inadequate.
    (I do wish for an article that does not mention CO2.)

    Peter Miller says:
    In passing, correct that zircon dating gives the age of crystallisation, not the age of sedimentation, and they are seldom the same. A little related, I have analysed a long drill hole from Central Australia where so-called igneous rocks, Tennant Creek ‘porphyroids’ interlayered with sedimentary rocks, have a chemical composition that is unable to differentiate to a high degree of significance between porphyroid and sediment by either whole rock analysis or trace elements – with the exception of a small difference with copper. The inference is that one formed from the other.

  46. Aging a zircon only tells when that crystal formed in the igneous rock not the age of the sedimentary rock it was eventually found.
    Fossils are not the best dating method because of their rarity, or at least the signature species needed for dating. Less than 1% of animal or plant life is found fossilized due to the complex requirements of fossilization and where the animal died. Land animals can be predated after death and bones scattered, in fact a good fossil is as rare as hens teeth.

  47. Why all the emphasis on CO2 emitted from volcanoes?

    Sulphur Dioxide is the real killer.
    Reacts with water to form sulphuric acid- now that really WILL lead to ocean acidification.
    In the atmosphere it acts as a precursor to particulates in the atmosphere- leading to abrupt cooling (nuclear winter anyone?).
    Finally exposure to 100 parts of sulphur dioxide per million parts of air (100 ppm) is considered immediately dangerous to life and health.

  48. “These scientists have come close to confirming something we had only guessed at: that the mass extinction of this ancient time was indeed related to a series of volcanic eruptions,” says Lisa Boush, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.

    —–

    “These scientists have been unable to confirm something we have resorted to guessing at: that the mass extinction of this ancient time was indeed related to a series of volcanic eruptions,” says Lisa Boush, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.

    —–

    Apparently science is like horseshoes. Points for coming close.

  49. RACookPE1978

    I agree entirely that volcanoes are an utterly inadequate explanation / excuse for the end of the recent warming and the current stasis. I was trying to be sarcastic. This is natural fluctuation of global temperature for which the “reason” is beyond our current understanding. Honest acknowledgement of the current stasis does indeed falsify the CAGW hypothesis which should now be rejected.

  50. The coincidence of high levels of intense volcanic activity with extinction events is, of itself and interesting one. The length and physical magnitude of the events is something that climatologists do not take proper account of when projecting the catastrophic impacts.
    The press release seems to assume that the only impact of large-scale volcanic activity on climate is through the release of greenhouse gases, causing rapid warming and ocean acidification. Such impacts are trivial compared with other effects. We know that the Mount Pinatubo eruption caused a short-term drop in global temperatures. That eruption was tiny in both magnitude and time compared with the scale of the volcanic activity talked about in the paper. There could have been large drops in global temperatures for decades or centuries at a time, Combined with the lack of sunlight, plant plant growth could have been significantly reduced. Further, the gases emitted could have poisoned the atmosphere.

  51. Mike H. says:
    March 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm
    Decimate has two senses. Sense 2 Eliminate, annihilate, extinguish, eradicate, wipe out, decimate, carry off — (kill in large numbers…(usage)) Wordnet 3.0.

    Also
    Sense 1 To destroy or kill a large portion of. Britannica World Language edition of Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary.

    It has one sense, the one garymount described. It was the fate of any Roman legion that performed with gross incompetence in the face of the enemy and that example is the source of the term. It has accreted, through careless application, the two nonsenses you describe.

  52. You guys, come on! You all know that flatulating herbivores increased atmospheric methane which in turn became CO2 over time which being all powerful increased both asteroid strikes and volcanic activity while simultaneously acidifying the ocean and overheating the planet killing off the very herbivores that spewed the powerful Greenhouse Gas in the first place, it’s the Karma Law that precautionary principled people know not to ignore due to the ever present repercussion amplification that always accompanies climate disruptions.

    …… (/sarc) …..

  53. D. J. Hawkins: In one sense garymount is correct. Having said that, his meaning is applicable if and only if one is referring to the specific practice of the Roman Army. In all other usages the modern sense applies.

  54. I’ve been noticing a lot of criticism of wording like ‘may have’ and ‘could have’. The authors have a hypothesis that volcanoes increased GHGs which caused a major extinction. They find some rock dating evidence that corroborates, but does not prove it. How the hell else do they say it?

    Also, they talk about increased volcanic activity over thousands of years. Wouldn’t the sulfates from each individual volcano wash out of the atmosphere rather quickly while the CO2 accumulated?

  55. @ Canman: The authors are not talking about single volcanoes. The Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) is the largest (in area) continental volcanic province (approx. 11 million sq km) found to date. The CAMP was active for about 1-2 million years and ejected into the atmosphere copious quantities of CO2, SO2, and a host of other acidic gasses and aerosols. This eruptive phase from all available evidence suggests that there was nearly continuous eruptive activity. I doubt that the sulfates and aerosols washed out of the atmosphere quickly.

  56. One day, hopefully soon, scientists will become aware of the Gravity Theory of Mass Extinction. This theory posits a common cause for every mass extinction; changes of the Earth’s gravitational field due to the offsetting of the Earth’s core elements.

    http://www.dinoextinct.com/page13.pdf

    It explains why flood basalt volcanism occurs with every mass extinction event.

    It explains why a rapid, massive drop in sea level coincides with every mass extinction. This is why methane is released from the sea bottom in great quantity causing an isotopic excursion.

    The complete extinction of the crurotarsi at the T-J mass extinction while dinosaurs were spared can readily be explained by the splayed-leg (and hip) structure of the crurotarsi which resulted in a big disadvantage when surface gravity increased. The massive jaw structure of the conodonts similarly became a big impediment that doomed them to extinction. Likewise, the ammonites almost became extinct at this time as well as other calcium-rich shelled sea life.

  57. What of the Deccan Traps and the Columbia Plateau Basalts? Where oh where are the mass acidifications that may have happened? Whoops! They must have forgotten to google. What horridly agenda-driven tripe.

  58. @ Mike Bromley the Canucklehead etc.: To answer your question about the Deccan Traps and the Columbia River Basalts (CRB). Look at the areas and volumes involved. The CRB covered approx 164K sq km(174K cu km) and the Deccan Traps covered about 500K sq km (512K cu km). Contrast this with the area of the CAMP. The CAMP covers approx 11,000,000 sq km!!!!and has an estimated volume of approx 2.4M cu km That is why you had an extinction event. It has been suggested that emplacement of the Deccan Traps contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

  59. Canman says:
    March 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve been noticing a lot of criticism of wording like ‘may have’ and ‘could have’. The authors have a hypothesis that volcanoes increased GHGs which caused a major extinction. They find some rock dating evidence that corroborates, but does not prove it. How the hell else do they say it?

    Yup. If you want to argue that said volcanic activity “may have” caused cooling instead, a comparison of the evidence on both sides would be useful for advancing that argument. In the long run, it looks really silly for people to mock scientists because they think and talk like scientists; because they are willing to report interesting results, but are not willing to pretend to certainty where there is none. All theories are open to reinterperatation when faced with new data. So, actual, absolute scientific certainty is so rare as to be nearly non-existent, and the language of science reflects this.

    Also, they talk about increased volcanic activity over thousands of years. Wouldn’t the sulfates from each individual volcano wash out of the atmosphere rather quickly while the CO2 accumulated?

    greymouser70 says:
    March 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    @ Canman: The authors are not talking about single volcanoes. The Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) is the largest (in area) continental volcanic province (approx. 11 million sq km) found to date. The CAMP was active for about 1-2 million years and ejected into the atmosphere copious quantities of CO2, SO2, and a host of other acidic gasses and aerosols. This eruptive phase from all available evidence suggests that there was nearly continuous eruptive activity. I doubt that the sulfates and aerosols washed out of the atmosphere quickly.

    This would elevate the levels of CO2, sulfates, and aerosols far above the levels expected from a single large eruption. However, since the sulfates and aerosols leave the atmosphere much more quickly, their eventual equilibrium concentration would not be elevated nearly as much as that of CO2.

    Staten-John says:
    March 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    One day, hopefully soon, scientists will become aware of the Gravity Theory of Mass Extinction.

    There is not enough aluminum foil in the world to properly cover one’s head while attempting to read this.

  60. JazzyT says:
    The sulfates and aerosols probably did precipitate out of the atmosphere relatively quickly. However I would venture to guess that the sulfates fell out as acid rain (H2SO4, H2SO3 and others) and in much greater quantities than we have ever seen in the present.

  61. @JazzyT,

    Without using aluminum foil, please explain why the crurotarsi became extinct at the T-J boundary but the dinosaurs did not.

  62. greymouser70 says:
    March 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

    D. J. Hawkins: In one sense garymount is correct. Having said that, his meaning is applicable if and only if one is referring to the specific practice of the Roman Army. In all other usages the modern sense applies.

    Ah so; there are precise rules for sloppy usage.
    Pray tell, greymouser70, when did the “modern sense” enter into the popular lexicon? Maybe it was during the “Dark Ages”, eh? 87)

    ~
    K’UNG-FU-TZU said (around 500 BC):

    If words are not correct, then language will not be in accordance with the truth of things.

    Nevertheless, Incorrect or not, popular usage will prevail with the masses, and some words will change meaning over time, although a few educated persons will resist what they see as the disintegration of proper discourse, with the consequences noted by the Chinese sage.
    Because language is the human asset that has allowed our species to prosper and human civilization to advance, some of us appreciate its power, the precision with which it can be used, and the benefits that accrue to our species when language is used with the greatest skill in the pursuit of the truth.
    And it is only the truth that will save us.
    Somebody – not Abe Lincoln – said that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Unfortunately – in the recent past, at the very least – it’s only been necessary to fool most of the people most of the time, as we have seen. Even when the truth comes out later, the deal allowed by the lie is done, a fait accompli, and the masses quickly pick up the (current) MSM meme that “we weren’t really fooled.”
    And so it goes.

  63. greymouser70 says:
    March 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm, 2:34 pm

    The problem I have with this usage is that there are better, more precise, and clearly unambiguous words meaning to destroy, or exterminate, but only one word meaning to reduce by 1/10th.

    At least we used to have such a word, but now decimate is used as a synonym for devastate or annihilate, which is clearly at odds with its original sense. (‘Several comments to this effect after greymouser70’s 2nd link, above)

    Unfortunately, in language the mob rules, with the blind leading the blind, and the ignoramuses often triumphant, as the gigabyte pronunciation question illustrates.

    I learned the word in Latin class a long time ago (but well after 1600.) I have it on the good authority of my long-ago Jesuit instructors that decimare is a valid Latin transitive verb meaning to decimate,(remove, kill, or punish 1/10th), a harsh disciplinary measure practiced by the Roman Army commanders of the day, and recorded by historians Livy, Polybius, and Plutarch.

  64. I’m sorry, but 40,000 years is not an instant in time. LOTS can happen over that time period. And, how in the heck can you find the exact extinction time frame? And if your confidence interval is 2 million years, then how real close to PROOF POSITIVE can you be?

  65. @Steve P: Your Jesuit instructors may very well be right, but the following shows that decimate also has other meanings coincident with your preferred choice, viz: (my bold)

    Definitions
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

    v. To destroy or kill a large part of (a group).
    v. Usage Problem To inflict great destruction or damage on: The fawns decimated my rose bushes.
    v. Usage Problem To reduce markedly in amount: a profligate heir who decimated his trust fund.
    v. To select by lot and kill one in every ten of.

    Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

    To take the tenth part of or from; tithe.
    To select by lot and put to death every tenth man of: as, to decimate a captured army or a body of prisoners or mutineers (a barbarity occasionally practised in antiquity).
    Loosely, to destroy a great but indefinite number or proportion of: as, the inhabitants were decimated by fever; the troops were decimated by the enemy’s fire.

    Wiktionary

    v. Roman history To kill one man chosen by lot out of every ten in a legion or other military group.
    v. To reduce anything by one in ten, or ten percent.
    v. historical To exact a tithe, or tax of 10 percent.
    v. To reduce to one-tenth.
    v. To severely reduce; to destroy almost completely.
    v. computer graphics To replace a high-resolution model with one of lower resolution but acceptably similar appearance.

    GNU Webster’s 1913

    v. To take the tenth part of; to tithe.
    v. To select by lot and punish with death every tenth man of.
    v. To destroy a considerable part of

    WordNet 3.0

    v. kill in large numbers
    v. kill one in every ten, as of mutineers in Roman armies

    Etymologies

    From Latin decimare “to take the tenth (decimus) part of “anything”, in particular referring to the levying and payment of tithe and also the practice of capital punishment applied to one man at random (by lot) out of every ten in a legion; compare quintate. (Wiktionary)
    Latin decimāre, decimāt-, to punish every tenth person, from decimus, tenth, from decem, ten; see dekm̥ in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

  66. To all the pedants on this issue. Let’s just agree to disagree on this. Yes the original meaning is valid but let us not get locked into arguing about a point most people could care less about. You all are engaging in what is referred to as an Etymological Fallacy. Language evolves and meanings change. This is an ongoing process.

  67. Commenting on the article and not the comments 7;-> I have to point out that according to studies cited by Ian Plimer in his opus, “Heaven and Earth”, the extinction referred to in the article was anything but as abrupt as they seem to paint it. Does anyone really think that 76% of all the species that existed at that point expired on the spot? Or even during the 40,000 years of eruptions as the CAMP expanded and the Atlantic Basin formed? The evidence is that the extinction event lasted for 20 MILLION YEARS.

    It think I ought to point out that Geologists tend to think in very long terms when it comes to time, so when Sam Bowring says, “This extinction happened at a geological instant in time. There’s no question the extinction occurred at the same time as the first eruption,” he’s not really saying they all gave a gasp and expired. There are scientists who, using this as a yardstick, believe we are in the midst of an extinction event right now (staring homo sapiens, for all we know…but if we’ve still got 19 million years to go, or like dinosaurs, perhaps 134 or so more, I guess I’m ok with that).

    But I do think that claiming such precision regarding an event that happened over the course of between 40,000 and 20,000,000 years (“There’s no question…”) is just a wee bit over-confident.

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