Anthropogenic emissions are similar to those related to volcanism of the CAMP, a new study shows


A recent study published in Global and Planetary Change and carried out by an international research group, led by Manfredo Capriolo, investigated the impact on the climate produced by the exceptional volcanic phase of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) during the end-Triassic and shows how the amount of CO2 emitted from a single pulse of the first CAMP phase is similar to that of anthropogenic origin from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Manfredo Capriolo, a postdoctoral researcher currently at the CEED (University of Oslo, Norway), obtained his Ph.D. at the Department of Geosciences with a thesis that investigated the link between the activity of CAMP and the end-Triassic mass extinction, which approximately 201 million years ago caused the disappearance of over half of the species living on Earth.

In the past years, this research led to the publication of two other studies, both on Nature Communications. The first was about the carbon dioxide that was degassed by the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. The investigation of this volatile was investigated in micrometer-sized structures within crystals, within the rocks from the basaltic lava flows of this event.

The second part was about the investigation of methane that was preserved by other similar structures, called fluid inclusions. The results strengthened the understanding of the climatic effects produced by the magmatism of the CAMP.

The link between magmatic activity and mass extinction events must be researched in the degassing of these carbon species, responsible for climatic and environmental consequences, leading to biotic crises.

In this new study, Capriolo and colleagues have developed a palaeoclimatic model that highlights the similarity, in terms of duration and quantity of released CO2, between a single CAMP pulse and the anthropogenic emissions. In both cases it is a matter of a few centuries, an instant for the geological history of our planet, and for this reason, what happened at the end-Triassic is of concern about the present.

“The similarity between current anthropogenic emissions and a single pulse of the main phase of volcanic activity from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province is in the amount of degassed CO2 and also in its duration.

"This period was previously thought to be longer but there is evidence from magnetostratigraphy and other data previously published in the literature that constrains this activity in a range of about 400 years, thus similar to the duration of the current anthropogenic emissions, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution”, Dr. Capriolo said.

“Today we are experiencing the increase of atmospheric CO2 and global climate change is observed by everybody. Understanding the past is fundamental to foresee and prevent the future”.