Karl Evans is a geologist, now retired from the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado. His field studies have concentrated on the geology of central Idaho, with occasional research forays into New Mexico and Colorado. He also has laboratory experience in U-Pb geochronology, a method which uses the mineral zircon to determine the age of the host rock. He is pleased to support the alumni associations of Franklin & Marshall College (A.B.), the University of Southern California (M.S.), and Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D.). As a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, Karl has taught adult-learning classes on the dialogue between science and Christian faith, where his fellow parishioners seem to revel in asking questions completely outside the field of geology.
The Deccan Traps: View from Pabe Ghat peak. Credit: cc by Wikimedia Commons

The Deccan Traps: View from Pabe Ghat peak. Credit: cc by Wikimedia Commons

What killed off those dinosaurs? Was it the impact of a meteorite? Or gases released by enormous lava flows in India? Both suggestions have been argued for years. New data indicates that it may have been both! And the events may have been related.

A meteorite is widely recognized to have impacted northern Yucatan, Mexico, at the Cretaceous-Paleogene (KPg) boundary about 66 million years ago. Now Renne and his co-authors in the journal Science have documented a major increase in the volume of lava flows of the Deccan Traps [basaltic lavas] of India — on the other side of the globe — at essentially the same time. They suggest that seismic waves from the impact traveled literally around the world and reorganized the “plumbing” of the already erupting Traps, thus promoting much larger eruptions with massive amounts of poisonous carbon and sulfur dioxide gases released into the atmosphere.

In other words, the impact helped “open the tap” for tremendous amounts of molten rock to reach Earth’s surface. Either event alone probably could have wiped out the dinosaurs; but both so close in time? It was a veritable one-two knockout punch.

More on the Deccan Traps in the video below:

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