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Andrew Alden

GSA Day Two

By October 19, 2009

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Today is promising. One of the packed sessions, I am sure, will be the one where a group of different speakers will present evidence from India around the great end-Cretaceous extinction bolstering the volcanic theory. There is also a session full of Google Earth geo-tricks in the afternoon that will draw a lot of ooohs and aaahs from the audience of geology geeks. But I will instead be hearing about efforts to establish geoparks in the United States. One proposal involves the "Klamath Knot" of northern California, where I can testify from my visit on Friday is a great place to be in good weather.

Not least, there will be an informal get-together afterward of geological bloggers, Twitterers and their closest friends at the Tug Boat Bar.

UPDATE: The evidence from India was compelling: presentations showing that volcanism spiked enormously in the few tens of thousands of years before the end-Cretaceous extinction. The large volumes of fresh basalt alone, even without considering cosmic impacts, were clearly sufficient to throw the environment seriously out of whack, chiefly but not exclusively through sulfur-dioxide input into the stratosphere and a vast sulfuric acid haze that exerted global cooling. There was an interesting talk, too, about a concert of oceanic/climatic changes associated with giant volcanic episodes that lead to a "hothouse Earth," a third state to go with the greenhouse and icehouse Earths.

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