End-Permian extinction amplified by plume-induced release of recycled lithospheric volatiles

Michael Broadley, Peter H. Barry, Christopher J. Ballentine, Lawrence A Taylor, Raymond Burgess

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    Magmatic volatile release to the atmosphere can lead to climatic changes and substantial environmental degradation including the production of acid rain, ocean acidification and ozone depletion, potentially resulting in the collapse of the biosphere. The largest recorded mass extinction in Earth’s history occurred at the end of the Permian, coinciding with the emplacement of the Siberian large igneous province, suggesting that large-scale magmatism is a key driver of global environmental change. However, the source and nature of volatiles in the Siberian large igneous province remain contentious. Here we present halogen compositions of sub-continental lithospheric mantle xenoliths emplaced before and after the eruption of the Siberian flood basalts. We show that the Siberian lithosphere is massively enriched in halogens from the infiltration of subducted seawater-derived volatiles and that a considerable amount (up to 70%) of lithospheric halogens are assimilated into the plume and released to the atmosphere during emplacement. Plume–lithosphere interaction is therefore a key process controlling the volatile content of large igneous provinces and thus the extent of environmental crises, leading to mass extinctions during their emplacement.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)682-687
    Number of pages6
    JournalNature Geoscience
    Issue number9
    Early online date27 Aug 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


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