EARTH Magazine: Permian-Triassic Extinctions Timed Differently on Land and at Sea

From EARTH Magazine, 02/04/2016  -- The largest mass extinction - on land or sea - occurred some 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period. Generally attributed to extensive flood basalt volcanism in Siberia, the extinction event nearly eradicated life on Earth. New research looking at rocks associated with the terrestrial extinction suggests that the terrestrial extinction started prior to the marine extinction. If true,  Siberian volcanism alone could not account for the extinctions. 

The research focuses on terrestrial fossils in the Karoo Basin of South Africa. Using paleomagnetic and radiometric dating, the team found a massive terrestrial extinction at Karoo occurring 1.5 million years prior to the classically defined Permian-Triassic extinction. Not everyone in the scientific community, however, buys this interpretation of the data, and questions have come up about the methods used. Explore the scientific debate and review the evidence behind this headline in the February 2016 issue of EARTH Magazine:

EARTH Magazine's February 2016 Issue is now available online at, in addition to the January/February 2016 print issue. In it you will find stories examining the role the atmosphere plays in Atlantic climate variation and the exciting results of a seismic survey looking at how deep the Alps extend into the crust. Also, get exclusive features like an overview of the debate on what killed the dinosaurs, and the science behind feeding the 11 billion people projected to live on Earth by the next century. 


Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH Magazine online at: Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.