By the volcano caused asphyxiation as a perpetrator in the Great Dying

By the volcano caused asphyxiation as a perpetrator in the Great Dying

A massive series of volcanic eruptions in the earth's distant past made the sea creatures gasp. The greenhouse gases emitted by the volcanoes have drastically reduced the oxygen content in the oceans, a deadly scenario that may have been the main cause of the Great Dying, researchers report.

Earth scientist Justin Penn of the University of Washington at Seattle and his colleagues showed how hot the oceans were at the time of the largest mass extinction on Earth about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian period. From these climate simulations, the team investigated where hot water led to anoxia in the ocean – dangerously low levels of dissolved oxygen.

Then the team combined this data with the oxygen demand of modern marine life. The scientists found that hypoxia – a lack of oxygen for the metabolic needs of species – could have been the main cause of death. The research, which was published on December 7 sciencealso predicts that the effects of hypoxia at polar latitudes would have been worst, and available fossil data supports this finding.

"Anoxia has been the primary killing mechanism for marine extinction for 20 years," said Lee Kump, a geochemist at Penn State, in the same issue of Science. The unique feature of this study is the inclusion of the effects of anoxia on organisms that live in different ecological niches in the oceans, he says.