The End Ordovician Mass ExtinctionThis plot shows “extinction…

The End Ordovician Mass Extinction

This plot shows “extinction intensity”, defined as the fraction of genera that go extinct over a short time period. There are thought to be 5 major mass extinctions during the Phanerozoic, marked and labeled on this graph. The first of these on the list is the end-Ordovician.

Because it is so long ago, scientists are still working to understand the cause. A new paper measured geochemistry of rocks crossing this boundary from what is today South China and found a pair of high-mercury layers at that boundary. One possibility is that this high mercury content represents the output from extremely active volcanoes, as is thought to be the driver of the end-Permian Mass Extinction ( However, as of now there is no known “Large Igneous Province” at the time, leaving plenty more work to do to understand this extinction.


Image credit:…/File:Extinction_Intensity.s…
Original paper:

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