Volcanoes erupt coal – Fox News 8 January 2010Posted by admin in volcanoes.
Tags: bad science, dinosaurs, Fox News
Everything you thought you knew about geology is wrong. Allow Fox News to open your eyes:
The tremendous volcanic eruption thought to be responsible for Earth’s largest mass extinction — which killed more than 70 percent of plants and dinosaurs walking the planet 250 million years ago — is still taking lives today.
Scientists investigating the high incidence of lung cancer in China’s Xuan Wei County in Yunnan Province conclude that the problem lies with the coal residents use to heat their homes. That coal was formed by the same 250-million-year-old giant volcanic eruption — termed a supervolcano — that was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The high silica content of that coal is interacting with volatile organic matter in the soil to cause the unusually high rates of lung cancer.
That’s right – the dinosaurs were killed off 250 million years ago (the end of the Permian) before they had got around to evolving (which happened after the Permian, in the Triassic and Jurassic, hence there wasn’t a dinosaur movie called Permian Park), and they were killed off by volcanoes that erupted coal.
Heaven knows what the authors of the serious and interesting article upon which this travesty is based think about it all. This is what is actually being argued:
From a geological perspective an aspect of this coal that has not been considered and could have produced coal with unusual properties is its paleogeography and geological setting, precisely adjacent to the Permo-Triassic Boundary (PTB). This geological boundary coincides with the largest known mass extinction event, an event that resulted from a major geochemical perturbation of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere and may have influenced the coal chemistry. This creates the fascinating prospect that the environmental conditions that resulted in the extinction event may have produced particularly toxic coal chemistry that is affecting the people using it today.
(To be fair to Fox News they do say near the end of the article that ‘massive volcanic eruptions worked to deposit silica in the peat that formed Xuan Wei’s coal’, which is a bit closer to the mark than claiming that the coal ‘was formed by’ a ‘giant volcanic eruption’ … but they also repeat the claim that the PTB geological boundary ‘coincides with the mass extinction of the dinosaurs’.)
UPDATE. While I was writing this Chris Rowan has expertly had his say at Highly Allocthonous: Fox News: volcanic coal kills off dinosaurs before they even evolved.