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250 million years ago, toxic coal ash caused a mass extinction

One of the biggest episodes of mass extinction may have been caused 250 million years ago because of toxic ash resulting from burning coal.

In the current Nature Geoscience, a team led by Stephen Grasby of the Geological Survey of Canada—Calgary, report evidence the eruption of the Siberian volcanoes torched massive coal beds, leaving behind ash deposits found by the team in deep rock layers from 250 million years ago, near Canada’s modern-day Buchanan Lake. “Mafic megascale eruptions are long-lived events that would allow significant build-up of global ash clouds. More than 3 trillion tons of carbon released by Siberian Traps coal burning has been suggested,” they report.

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Story: Dan Vergano, USA Today | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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