Flood basalt volcanism during the past 250 million years

Michael R. Rampino, Richard B. Stothers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A chronology of the initiation dates of major continental flood basalt volcanism is established from published potassium-argon (K-Ar) and argon-argon (Ar-Ar) ages of basaltic rocks and related basic intrusions. The dating is therefore independent of the biostratigraphic and paleomagnetic time scales. Estimated errors of the initiation dates of the volcanic episodes determined from the distributions of the radiometric ages are, approximately, plus or minus 4 percent. There were 11 distinct episodes during the past 250 million years. Sometimes appearing in pairs, the episodes have occurred quasi-periodically with a mean cycle time of 32 ± 1 (estimated error of the mean) million years. The initiation dates of the episodes are dose to the estimated dates of mass extinctions of marine organisms. Showers of impacting comets may be the cause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-668
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume241
Issue number4866
DOIs
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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