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The Deccan Traps of India



Area of the Deccan Traps labeled over India


A Gravity Map of the Chicxulub CraterThe Deccan Traps now cover some 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 square miles), though originally covered some 1,500,000 square kilometers (570,000 square miles). So the area now covers an area roughly the size of California though before covered over half of India. The volcanic eruption that created the Deccan Traps is somewhat similar to the current eruption of Hawaii's Kīlauea volcano though on a much more massive scale. Lava keeps pouring out instead of just one massive eruption. The Deccan Traps most likely erupted lava at a rate 25 times that of Kilauea and over a span of a million years.

Why the Deccan Traps are Important!

Map of India with Deccan Traps LabeledThe timing of when the bulk of the eruptions occurred, 65 million years ago, is interesting because this is at the same time as what is known as the K-T boundary. Found in the rock at the K-T boundary is the presence of enriched iridium, an element rare in Earth's crust but abundant in meteorites. An impact event now identified at what is named Chicxulub Crater is widely believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. There is strong evidence though that this could not have been the only factor though. So scientists are now looking at the Deccan Traps as a contributing factor perhaps in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The impact of the meteorite at Chicxulub Crater would have caused massive damage around the Earth and triggered an impact winter. The Deccan Traps would have contributed a further global 2°C drop in temperature and the realease of massive amounts of sulphuric gasses into the atmosphere. There is data supporting a killing off of foraminifera with the main eruptions at the Deccan Traps.


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Map of India with Deccan Traps Labeled

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