Deccan volcanism, greenhouse warming, and the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary

Kenneth G. Caldeira, Michael R. Rampino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A greenhouse wanning produced by increased emissions of mantle volatiles (CO2, SO2, HCI), particularly from the Deccan Traps flood basalt eruptions in India, has been suggested as a cause of the terminal Cretaceous extinctions. In order to quantify some of the possible climatological effects of an injection of volcanic volatiles into the oceanatmosphere system, we have developed a global biogeochemical carbon-cycle model that emphasizes the roles of ocean chemistry and the chemical weathering of terrestrial carbonate and silicate rocks. Model results indicate that Deccan Traps degassing would have produced variations in atmospheric CO2, leading to a sustained global wanning of less than 2 °C-too weak a climatic effect to be associated with mass extinctions. The calculated global wanning is at a rate two orders of magnitude slower and less than half the absolute amount experienced during the Holocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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