“The Great Dying” Destroyed Earth’s Ozone Layer And 90% of Life

About 250 million years ago, Earth was not a beautiful place to live. It was then when the “The Great Dying,” a chain of cataclysmic events took place, also known as the End-Permian extinction event.

To put it into perspective, the event that killed dinosaurs was a fluke compared to “The Great Dying.”

A study published on 27 August in the journal Nature Geoscience explains some of the causes that brought upon Earth the most devastating mass extinction. During this period, 90% of all marine life and vertebrates on Earth were wiped out.

According to the study, a nearly-million-year-long volcanic eruption released into the Earth’s atmosphere halogens which destroyed the ozone layer and made life on Earth struggle to survive.

Evidence of Volcanic Explosion Found in Siberian Flood Basalts

The proof was found in Earth’s lithosphere, the rock between the crust and the mantle which got to the surface during an eruption. The rock was found in the Siberian flood basalts, and after analysis, researchers discovered that the magma had a very high concentration of bromine, iodine, and chlorine (all halogens).

The eruption of the Siberian flood basalts was found to date back to the beginning of the “The Great Dying” event – almost 250 million years ago. That meant that this eruption was a link in the chain of events that led to the destruction of nearly all life on Earth.

The first author of this study and a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Petrographic and Geochemical Research (Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France), Michael Broadley and his team concluded that:

“The large reservoir of halogens that was stored in the Siberian lithosphere was sent into the earth’s atmosphere during the volcanic explosion, effectively destroying the ozone layer at the time and contributing to the mass extinction.”

The study’s findings fit with what is known about the End-Permian extinction: the Siberian flood basalts were the first one that triggered the “great dying” event.

Today, scientists believe that our planet is experiencing a sixth mass extinction, but looking back at the information on “The Great Dying,” this extinction event should not be that bad, right?

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere