A Caltech Library Service

Mercury linked to Deccan Traps volcanism, climate change and the end-Cretaceous mass extinction

Keller, Gerta and Mateo, Paula and Monkenbusch, Johannes and Thibault, Nicolas and Punekar, Jahnavi and Spangenberg, Jorge E. and Abramovich, Sigal and Ashckenazi-Polivoda, Sarit and Schoene, Blair and Eddy, Michael P. and Samperton, Kyle M. and Khadri, Syed F. R. and Adatte, Thierry (2020) Mercury linked to Deccan Traps volcanism, climate change and the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Global and Planetary Change, 194 . Art. No. 103312. ISSN 0921-8181.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Mercury (Hg) anomalies linked to Large Igneous Provinces (LIP) volcanism have been identified in sediments across all five major mass extinctions in Earth's history. This study tests whether Hg in marine sediments is a reliable proxy linking Deccan Traps volcanic eruptions to late Maastrichtian global climate warming and the mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (KPB). Our primary test site is the Elles section in Tunisia, the auxiliary Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) to El Kef. Elles has the most complete marine sedimentary record and a high average sedimentation rate of ~4.7 cm/ky. We chose the Hor Hahar section in Israel to corroborate the geographic distribution of Hg fallout from Deccan volcanism. Reliability of the Hg proxy over the last 550 ky of the Maastrichtian to early Danian was evaluated based on high-resolution age control (orbital cyclostratigraphy), stable isotope climate record, Hg concentrations, biotic turnover and mass extinction. These results were correlated with the pulsed Deccan eruptive history constrained previously by U-Pb zircon geochronology. Our results support Hg as robust proxy for Deccan volcanism with large Hg spikes marking “extreme event” (EE) pulsed eruptions correlative with climate warming peaks separated by steady, less intense eruptions. Long-term global climate warming began near ~350 ky pre-KPB, reached maximum warming (3–4 °C) between 285 and 200 ky pre-KPB, followed by gradual cooling and rapid temperature drop between 45 and 25 ky pre-KPB. During the last 25 ky before the KPB, multiple Hg EE eruptions correlate with hyperthermal warming that culminated in the rapid mass extinction at Elles during ≤1000 years of the Cretaceous. These latest Cretaceous Hg peaks may correlate with massive, distal, Deccan-sourced lava flows (>1000 km long) that traversed the Indian subcontinent and flowed into the Bay of Bengal, bracketing the mass extinction. These results support Deccan volcanism as a primary driver of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Abramovich, Sigal0000-0003-3124-1387
Additional Information:© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Received 5 June 2020, Revised 6 August 2020, Accepted 12 August 2020, Available online 3 September 2020.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Carlsberg FoundationCF16-0457
Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLLNL-JRNL-811397
Princeton UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC52-07NA27344
Subject Keywords:Deccan Traps volcanism; Mercury stratigraphy; End-Cretaceous; Mass extinction; Hyperthermal warming
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200915-152458385
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Gerta Keller, Paula Mateo, Johannes Monkenbusch, Nicolas Thibault, Jahnavi Punekar, Jorge E. Spangenberg, Sigal Abramovich, Sarit Ashckenazi-Polivoda, Blair Schoene, Michael P. Eddy, Kyle M. Samperton, Syed F.R. Khadri, Thierry Adatte, Mercury linked to Deccan Traps volcanism, climate change and the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, Global and Planetary Change, Volume 194, 2020, 103312, ISSN 0921-8181, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105392
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Sep 2020 23:03
Last Modified:15 Sep 2020 23:03

Repository Staff Only: item control page