IB Times] Volcanic eruptions have served as cornerstones to evolution on Earth. From aiding the creation of first signs of life on Earth to the extinction of dinosaurs, volcanic eruptions constantly feature as important events in history that altered the course of planetary evolution.
Now researchers at Washington State University have
determined that the Pacific Northwest was home to one of the Earth's
largest known volcanic eruptions around 16.5 million years ago.
fact, only two eruptions were larger than the one in the Pacific
Northwest: the basalt flood of the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps.
eruptions, a millennia-long spewing of sulfuric gas that blocked out
the sun and cooled the planet, also led to large-scale extinction of
life on the planet.
"These eruptions did have a global effect on
temperatures, but not drastic enough to start killing things, or it did
not kill enough of them to affect the fossil record," said John Wolff, a
professor in the WSU School of the Environment, in a report by
The research was funded by the National Science
Foundation and published in Geology journal. It connects geological and
archaeological data from across the world to connect the dots to a
major, landscape changing event in our planets’ history.
estimated the eruption to have occurred 16.5 million years ago. Vents
found in Washington and Northwest Oregon sent the flow of basalt from
the eruption all the way from Canada to the Pacific Ocean.
flow formed the Wapshilla Ridge Member of the Grande Ronde Basalt, a
kilometer-thick block familiar to travelers in the Columbia Gorge and
most of Eastern Washington. This is the largest basalt flood map plotted
till date. Read More