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      Zircon U-Pb geochronology links the end-Triassic extinction with the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province.

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          Abstract

          The end-Triassic extinction is characterized by major losses in both terrestrial and marine diversity, setting the stage for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 136 million years. Despite the approximate coincidence between this extinction and flood basalt volcanism, existing geochronologic dates have insufficient resolution to confirm eruptive rates required to induce major climate perturbations. Here, we present new zircon uranium-lead (U-Pb) geochronologic constraints on the age and duration of flood basalt volcanism within the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. This chronology demonstrates synchroneity between the earliest volcanism and extinction, tests and corroborates the existing astrochronologic time scale, and shows that the release of magma and associated atmospheric flux occurred in four pulses over about 600,000 years, indicating expansive volcanism even as the biologic recovery was under way.

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          Partial Melt Distributions from Inversion of Rare Earth Element Concentrations

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            The geological record of ocean acidification.

            Ocean acidification may have severe consequences for marine ecosystems; however, assessing its future impact is difficult because laboratory experiments and field observations are limited by their reduced ecologic complexity and sample period, respectively. In contrast, the geological record contains long-term evidence for a variety of global environmental perturbations, including ocean acidification plus their associated biotic responses. We review events exhibiting evidence for elevated atmospheric CO(2), global warming, and ocean acidification over the past ~300 million years of Earth's history, some with contemporaneous extinction or evolutionary turnover among marine calcifiers. Although similarities exist, no past event perfectly parallels future projections in terms of disrupting the balance of ocean carbonate chemistry-a consequence of the unprecedented rapidity of CO(2) release currently taking place.
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              Synchronizing rock clocks of Earth history.

              Calibration of the geological time scale is achieved by independent radioisotopic and astronomical dating, but these techniques yield discrepancies of approximately 1.0% or more, limiting our ability to reconstruct Earth history. To overcome this fundamental setback, we compared astronomical and 40Ar/39Ar ages of tephras in marine deposits in Morocco to calibrate the age of Fish Canyon sanidine, the most widely used standard in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology. This calibration results in a more precise older age of 28.201 +/- 0.046 million years ago (Ma) and reduces the 40Ar/39Ar method's absolute uncertainty from approximately 2.5 to 0.25%. In addition, this calibration provides tight constraints for the astronomical tuning of pre-Neogene successions, resulting in a mutually consistent age of approximately 65.95 Ma for the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science (New York, N.Y.)
                1095-9203
                0036-8075
                May 24 2013
                : 340
                : 6135
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. tblackburn@ciw.edu
                Article
                science.1234204
                10.1126/science.1234204
                23519213

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