The School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Presents Dr. Tom Tobin, University of Alabama
Exploring the Causes and Effects of the End Cretaceous Mass Extinction in Antarctica
The End Cretaceous Mass Extinction is most famous for the extinction of many charismatic fauna, including non-avian dinosaurs, ammonites, large marine reptiles, and pterosaurs. The consequences of this event have rippled through global ecosystems to the present day. A large asteroid impact near Chicxulub, on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, is an important driver of this extinction, but the potential contribution of the Deccan Traps, a large flood basalt province in India, is still the subject of debate.
While both of these events are locally devastating, the End Cretaceous Mass Extinction affects fauna globally, and determining the worldwide effects of the asteroid impact and flood volcanism is essential to understanding their importance toward extinction. I’ll present geochemical and paleontological data from a section in Antarctica that preserves sediments deposited across this extinction event. This site is distal from both the Chicxulub impact and the Deccan Traps and is therefore a good recorder of their global effects. We find evidence linking both potential causes to environmental change and extinction, though further work to confirm these findings is necessary.