Deccan volcanism at K-Pg time

Tushar Mittal, Courtney J. Sprain, Paul R. Renne, Mark A. Richards

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The last major mass extinctions in Earth history (e.g., end-Guadalupian, end-Permian, end-Triassic, and end-Cretaceous) are all correlated closely in time with the main-phase eruptions of major flood basalt provinces (Emeishan, Siberian, Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, and Deccan Traps, respectively). The causal relationship between flood volcanism and mass extinction is not clear, but likely involves the climate effects of outgassed volatile species such as CO2, SO2, Cl, F, etc., from some combination of magma and country rocks. In a surprising “coincidence,” the end-Cretaceous (K-Pg boundary) micro-faunal extinction also corresponds precisely in time to what may have been the largest meteor impact of the past billion years of Earth history, the Chicxulub crater at 66.05 Ma. The Deccan Traps eruptions were under way well before K-Pg/Chicxulub time and are most likely the result of the mantle plume “head” that initiated the presently active Reunion hotspot track-thus the Deccan Traps were clearly not generated, fundamentally, by the impact. However, recent high-precision 40Ar/39Ar geochronology indicates that conspicuous changes in basalt geochemistry, lava flow morphology, emplacement mode, and a possible 50% increase in eruption rate at the Lonavala/Wai subgroup transition in the Deccan Traps lava group corresponded, within radioisotopic age precision, to the K-Pg boundary and the Chicxulub impact. This has led to the testable hypothesis that the Mw ~11 seismic disturbance of the Chicxulub impact may have affected the Deccan eruptions. Here we review a broad landscape of evidence regarding Deccan volcanism and its relation to the K-Pg boundary and attempt to define what we see as the most important questions than can and should be answered by further research to better understand both the onshore and largely unknown offshore components of Deccan-related volcanism, and what their climate and environmental impacts at K-Pg time may have been.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
EditorsC. Koeberl, P. Claeys, A. Montanari
PublisherGeological Society of America
Number of pages26
StatePublished - Jun 21 2022

Publication series

NameSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
ISSN (Print)0072-1077

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


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