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Novel isotopic constraints on the environmental impact of continental flood basalt eruptions


Continental flood basalt volcanism is characterised by the repeated eruption of huge batches of magma, producing enormous basaltic provinces over relatively brief intervals of time, and delivering large quantities of volcanic gas to the atmosphere. The release of gases and aerosols during CFB volcanism is thought to have had a significant impact on the atmosphere, ocean chemistry and climate – with such eruptions often linked with mass extinction events that punctuate the history of life on Earth.
The environmental effects of flood basalt volcanism, in terms of atmospheric loading, is a function of the amount, rate and source of volatiles released by the eruption, as well as the mechanism of volatile delivery to the atmosphere. This research proposes a novel isotopic approach, specifically the application of the chalcophile zinc and copper stable isotope systems coupled with the radiogenic rhenium-osmium system, to quantify these criteria.
The ultimate aim of this research is to constrain the environmental impact of atmospheric volatile input produced by individual continental flood basalt eruptions. This study will allow us to deduce whether a single eruptive event is enough to trigger biological crisis, or whether multiple eruptions are required to cause deleterious effects.

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Stockton Road The Palatine Centre
DH1 3LE Durham
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 282 561
Administrative Contact
Wendy Harle (Ms.)