End-Triassic mass extinction started by intrusive CAMP activity

Nat Commun. 2017 May 31;8:15596. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15596.


The end-Triassic extinction is one of the Phanerozoic's largest mass extinctions. This extinction is typically attributed to climate change associated with degassing of basalt flows from the central Atlantic magmatic province (CAMP). However, recent work suggests that the earliest known CAMP basalts occur above the extinction horizon and that climatic and biotic changes began before the earliest known CAMP eruptions. Here we present new high-precision U-Pb ages from CAMP mafic intrusive units, showing that magmatic activity was occurring ∼100 Kyr ago before the earliest known eruptions. We correlate the early magmatic activity with the onset of changes to the climatic and biotic records. We also report ages from sills in an organic rich sedimentary basin in Brazil that intrude synchronously with the extinction suggesting that degassing of these organics contributed to the climate change which drove the extinction. Our results indicate that the intrusive record from large igneous provinces may be more important for linking to mass extinctions than the eruptive record.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Atmosphere / chemistry
  • Brazil
  • Climate Change*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Extinction, Biological*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry
  • Silicates
  • Volcanic Eruptions / adverse effects*


  • Silicates
  • basalt