Carbon dioxide emissions from Deccan Volcanism and a K/T boundary Greenhouse Effect

Ken Caldeira, Michael R. Rampino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A greenhouse warming caused by increased emissions of carbon dioxide from the Deccan Traps volcanism has been suggested as the cause of the terminal Cretaceous extinctions on land and in the sea. We estimate total eruptive and noneruptive CO2 output by the Deccan eruptions (from 6 to 20 × 1016 moles) over a period of several hundred thousand years based on best estimates of the CO2 weight fraction of the original basalts and basaltic melts, the fraction of CO2 degassed, and the volume of the Deccan Traps eruptions. Results of a model designed to estimate the effects of increased CO2 on climate and ocean chemistry suggest that increases in atmospheric pCO2 due to Deccan Traps CO2 emissions would have been less than 75 ppm, leading to a predicted global warming of less than 1°C over several hundred thousand years. We conclude that the direct climate effects of CO2 emissions from the Deccan eruptions would have been too weak to be an important factor in the end‐Cretaceous mass extinctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1302
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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