Volcanoes and cold weather

9 Feb 2013

At http://phys.org/print279440535.html ... volcanoes may be a key to the Ice Ages, is being suggested in a new paper in the journal Geosphere. Actually, they feel that Earth's repeated flip flops between warmth and cold over millions of years may be driven by episodic flare-ups of volcanoes at key locations where enormous amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. Hence, the hypothesis has the requisite reference to global warming but it is interesting if volcanoes really were triggered at particular times in the past. Unfortunately, the authors then enter into the realms of Plate Tectonics as a trigger and the idea that the world goes through phases of global warming interspersed with cold periods (defined as epochs where there is evidence of ice at the poles). Looking at it from a different perspective, through the lens of a catastrophist, one begins to see some possibilities that may require further sleuthing. For example, sea water in the Cretaceous period, around 93 million years ago, has some very strange properties, and visiting any geological site of the period (Jurassic and Cretaceous) you will be told that such things have occurred, which revolves around the disappearance of some species in certain layers and a preponderance of others - or nothing at all, in adjoining layers. These so called extinction events coincide, it is alleged, with a marine anoxic situation. That is, the deep oceans were starved of oxygen and only certain species were able to survive. So, in geology it is recognised there were several episodes of oxygen starvation - but is that because the sediments are thought to have lasted a long time and the defined layering requires explanation - why are one kind of marine life abundant or another not so, when in another layer they are both apparently thriving in the seas. Or if the layering is accepted there were a succession of events that were catastrophic in nature but usually passed over without comment. What this paper adds is the idea that oxygen starvation events coincided with episodic bouts of volcanism. At 93 million years ago this was evident along the western margins of North America.