The Extinction Chronicles

Scientists show solar system processes control the carbon cycle throughout Earth's history
Geologists studying the Lower Jurassic (Pliensbachian) Belemnite Marl Member mudstone succession in Dorset, UK, showing orbitally paced variations of the sediment composition similar to the studied core in Wales. Credit: Dr Micha Ruhl

The world is waking up to the fact that human-driven carbon emissions are responsible for warming our climate, driving unprecedented changes to ecosystems, and placing us on course for the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history.

However, new research publishing this week in leading international journal PNAS, sheds fresh light on the complicated interplay of factors affecting global climate and the carbon cycle—and on what transpired millions of years ago to spark two of the most devastating extinction events in Earth’s history.

Using chemical data from ancient mudstone deposits in Wales, an international team involving scientists from Trinity College Dublin discovered that periodic changes in the…

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