An ice age caused P-T mass extinction – Not global warming

Shocking discovery. (But not shocking to me.) One of greatest mass extinctions in history was caused by an ice age, not global warming. Press release from the University of Geneva, 6 Mar 2017.

The cold exterminated all of them

Permian-Triassic boundary in shallow marine sediments, characterised by a significant sedimentation gap between the black shales of Permian and dolomites of Triassic age. This gap documents a globally-recognised regression phase, probably linked to a period of a cold climate and glaciation. © H. Bucher, Zürich

The Earth has known several mass extinctions over the course of its history. One of the most important happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary 250 million years ago. Over 95% of marine species disappeared and, up until now, scientists have linked this extinction to a significant rise in Earth temperatures. But researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, working alongside the University of Zurich, discovered that this extinction took place during a short ice age which preceded the global climate warming.

It’s the first time that the various stages of a mass extinction have been accurately understood and that scientists have been able to assess the major role played by volcanic explosions in these climate processes. This research, which can be read in Scientific Reports, completely calls into question the scientific theories regarding these phenomena, founded on the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, and paves the way for a new vision of the Earth’s climate history.

Teams of researchers led by Professor Urs Schaltegger from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Faculty of Science of the UNIGE and by Hugo Bucher, from the University of Zürich, have been working on absolute dating for many years. They work on determining the age of minerals in volcanic ash, which establishes a precise and detailed chronology of the earth’s climate evolution. They became interested in the Permian-Triassic boundary, 250 million years ago, during which one of the greatest mass extinctions ever took place, responsible for the loss of 95% of marine species. How did this happen? for how long marine biodiversity stayed at very low levels ?

A technique founded on the radioactive decay of uranium.

Researchers worked on sediment layers in the Nanpanjiang basin in southern China. They have the particularity of being extremely well preserved, which allowed for an accurate study of the biodiversity and the climate history of the Permian and the Triassic. “We made several cross-sections of hundreds of metres of basin sediments and we determined the exact positions of ash beds contained in these marine sediments,” explained Björn Baresel, first author of the study.

They then applied a precise dating technique based on natural radioactive decay of uranium, as Urs Schaltegger added: “In the sedimentary cross-sections, we found layers of volcanic ash containing the mineral zircon which incorporates uranium. It has the specificity of decaying into lead over time at a well-known speed. This is why, by measuring the concentrations of uranium and lead, it was possible for us to date a sediment layer to an accuracy of 35,000 years, which is already fairly precise for periods over 250 million years.”

Ice is responsible for mass extinction

By dating the various sediment layers, researchers realised that the mass extinction of the Permian-Triassic boundary is represented by a gap in sedimentation, which corresponds to a period when the sea-water level decreased. The only explanation to this phenomenon is that there was ice, which stored water, and that this ice age which lasted 80,000 years was sufficient to eliminate much of marine life.

Scientists from the UNIGE explain the global temperature drop by a stratospheric injection of large amounts of sulphur dioxide reducing the intensity of solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth. “We therefore have proof that the species disappeared during an ice age caused by the activity of the first volcanism in the Siberian Traps,” added Urs Schaltegger.

This ice age was followed by the formation of limestone deposits through bacteria, marking the return of life on Earth at more moderate temperatures. The period of intense climate warming, related to the emplacement of large amounts of basalt of the Siberian Traps and which we previously thought was responsible for the extinction of marine species, in fact happened 500,000 years after the Permian-Triassic boundary.

This study therefore shows that climate warming is not the only explanation of global ecological disasters in the past on Earth: it is important to continue analysing ancient marine sediments to gain a deeper understanding of the earth’s climate system.

Contact: Urs Schaltegger, +41 22 379 66 38

Thanks to Ronald Baker for this link

“More evidence that you are way ahead of your time,” says Ronald.

19 thoughts on “An ice age caused P-T mass extinction – Not global warming”

  1. The sulphur dioxide from the Siberian traps eruption would have cooled the planet and disrupted the climate.

    • The work of Dr. Peter L. Ward (USGS,Ret.) shows that while the initial release of ash and sulfur dioxide from volcanic eruptions cools the planet, the release of large amounts of sulfur dioxide over time (such as occurred from the Siberian Traps) warms the planet substantially. Thus a brief ice age followed by global warming makes sense.

  2. I would suggest that this 100s of million year’s period is series of Yo-Yoing between absolute cold and very warm perhaps 6 to 9C warmer than now. What caused the volcanism?
    A possible very large impact around the same time frame, check out Australia as an example, the entire continent is just one big impact basin with the mineral deposits to go with it boot.
    With the greenhouse gas theorem and in particular Venus, there is another possibility, of Venus being hit in the ass by a cometary break up in the same time frame as the earths volcanism in this peice with the remains hitting us as well, as the debris swung around the Sun. Venus is still resurfacing its tectonic planetary plates with magma and possibly will do so for many millions of year to come.

    • Slight problem with greenhouse gas warming on Venus – Venus reflects more than 88% of visible light and its thick atmosphere absorbs the rest. It also absorbs most of infra-red.

      Virtually no light makes it to the surface of Venus hence a greenhouse effect as we are lectured about is impossible.

      I always find it funny when people pontificate about the surface of Venus – we can’t see it and any landers we have sent last a few hours.

      We know virtually nothing about Venus yet we have the “settled science” acolytes telling us all about how Venus came to be like it is due to its runaway greenhouse effect.

      JimBob is probably right to say Venus probably has a large amount of volcanic activity which to my mind explains the high temperatures of the thick heavy atmosphere. Seems more logical than the greenhouse claim of a permanent 16,000 W/m2 emission due to a temperature of ~730K caused by 220 W/m2 input radiation which in all probability doesn’t even reach the surface.

      • I agree, Rosco, and it’s amazing how they all repeat this rubbish about Venus and don’t even stop to think about what they’re saying. And they call themselves scientists, what a joke.

    • “What caused the volcanism?”

      If we’re talking about the Siberian traps event the most likely cause is a hot spot or mantle plume or may be an on land rift fault like the one that is at the end of the mid Atlantic ridge and crosses Siberia and extends south through central Japan.

      • Hi Steve,
        I seem to remember a piece discussing an bolide impact where a section of the Earth immediately opposite has a reciprocal earthquake/volcanism event.
        Perhaps in some cases the trap events have been reciprocal impacts zones, I agree many others are rift related.
        We live on a violent planet, and in geological term it’s like the chaotic weather we have, what we get is what we get, and we have make the best of it by planning accordingly.

    • Madness not using coal, Britain is basically one big coal mine. Instead we’ll have windmills and huge diesel generators to back them up when they blow too fast, or really too fast, too slow or very slow, or they have to turn them off because the wind just aint right that day. Oh God what a future that is laying in front of us. UK has shut about 4 coal plants over the last 4 years, there is nothing to replace them, we are relying on wind like some pipe dream. It’s all going to end in tears. Our future energy will be rationed, black outs will be the norm. There is no steel/ship/foundry industries left to use energy anyway, just call-centre offices (where they seem to be able to leave all the lights on at night anyway!). Will the last person just leave, no need to turn the lights off they are already on the blink!

      • Most of the call centres are in India, via globalisation, cheap wages compaired to the UK, and Indian electricity powered by very cheap coal.
        Full marks to the Indians, low tax economy, support for industry and lip service to the Green snowflakes running the Western Powers in Europe.
        The US has just escaped this Green fraud by the skin of its teeth.

  3. and it spite of no appreciable heating for decades now
    we still have a cluster of lunatics wanting to use sulphur and other compounds to do this to our present day environment

    geoengineering is underway

  4. When I was doing job search awhile ago I got to talking to a kitchen designer and started discussing rock counter tops and where the rock comes from. Much of the rock comes from quarries in the tropics and in areas not previously covered by ice sheets because the ice sheets depress the rock layers and fractures them making rocks like slate and granite unsuitable for counter tops. Wholeness is just important as good looks.
    Fractured rock layers could be used as an indicator of glaciation as well as being the result of other geophysical events like earthquakes, folding and faulting.
    The weight of water or ice is roughly one gram per cm 3.
    Ice 2 miles thick is .32 million centimetres thick x 1 gram gives you a ground pressure of 320 kg per cm 2. That is a lot of weight on an area roughly the size of your index finger nail. 320 KG= 704 lbs
    Something has to give.

    • A typical design for a concrete slab on ground, say a driveway, is ~30 MPa which is about equal to the ~32 MPa pressure exerted by 3218 cubic metres of ice over 1 square metre – 3218 m3 x 1000 kg/m3 / 1m2 x 9.81 = 31.6 MN/m2 = 31.6 MPa.

      The compressive strength of rock exceeds that of portland cement.

      Kilograms do not measure weight – Newtons are the unit of force – kg x acceleration of gravity equals weight.

  5. Something tells me it’s down to the volcanic eruptions then comes the cold from blocked sun, dark ,incessant rain, snow then ice, but as Robert says, we will all be fighting for food well before any ice is a problem. Funnily enough my mate read your book Robert and quipped “Rain Age” and I thought hmm maybe there is a rain age as part of a cooling ice-age epoch.

  6. What probably bothers me most about the pompousness of today’s science is well demonstrated in this paper. A declaration of over 95% of all marine life perished during this time hits it well. And exactly – and I do MEAN exactly – how do we know how many marine life forms existed 250 million years ago?

    And here – “It’s the first time that the various stages of a mass extinction have been accurately understood”. Can you really get more arrogant than that? There is no way – period – anyone can accurate understand anything from 250 million years ago since the whole body of the science is based on speculation and proxy records. No one “solves” problems and issues, they can offer a different perspective and view, but they can not solve or accurately explain anything. It is this arrogance that has crept into science that is the most frustrating. And the most damning.

    • You are dead right – the climate clowns we see on TV and the media are fools !

      A real scientist and educator Richard Feynman said :-

      “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”

      “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

      “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

      “Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.”

      “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

      So much for a real scientist’s opinion of climate “science” and their smugness !

  7. Quote:
    “This arrogance that has crept into science”
    This arrogance has always been within academia, its only now that many in the public are being exposed to this degree of knowledge on just how these learned people conduct themselves using our cash to promote propaganda and claim it to be fully peer reviewed science.
    Frankly they can be as arrogant as they like, provided they are not committing fraud using my tax £/$ as many in the Climate Ologists field have done and are continuing to do so.

Comments are closed.