DECCAN VOLCANISM: A MAIN TRIGGER OF ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES LEADING TO THE KTB MASS EXTINCTION?
Closer to the eruption center, the lava flows are generally separated by red weathered horizons known as red boles, marking a quiescent period between two basalt flows. Red boles consist mainly of red silty clays characterized by concentrations of immobile elements such as Al and Fe3+ ions, which provide indirect evidence indicating a primitive form of paleo-laterite that probably developed during the short periods of weathering between eruptions. There are at least 15 thick red bole layers in C29r below the KT boundary, and all were deposited in between phase-2 volcanic eruptions that occurred over time span of about 230 ky. These short duration exposures are reflected in the mineralogical and geochemical data that indicate rapid weathering (high CIA) but arid conditions. The arid conditions can be explained by acid rain, which accelerated the weathering process. These observations indicate that Deccan volcanism played a key role in increasing atmospheric CO2 and SO2 levels that resulted in global warming and acidified oceans, thus increasing biotic stress that predisposed faunas to eventual extinction at the KTB.