Volcanic mountains

Forest fires triggered by volcanic activity ravaged Antarctica 75 million years ago, study finds


Forest fires triggered by volcanic explosions ravaged Antarctica’s James Ross Island – once home to lush vegetation and dinosaurs – 75 million years ago, study finds

  • Late Cretaceous fossil plants discovered in Antarctica
  • Scientists analyzed the samples and found the charcoal characteristics
  • This means that Antarctica experienced forest fires 75 million years ago.
  • They were probably triggered by volcanic activity on James Ross Island










Antarctica was on fire 75 million years ago, according to a team of international scientists, who discovered fossilized plants with charcoal characteristics dating back to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

The once lush forests of James Ross Island were burnt to the ground in the late Cretaceous (100 to 66 million years ago), which experts say may have been fueled by volcanic activity caused by the tectonic.

The charcoal fragments are believed to be burnt gymnosperms, a group of seed-producing plants that includes conifers, cycads, ginkgo, and gnetophytes, which scientists believe likely originated from a botanical family of coniferous trees called Araucariaceae.

“The Cretaceous ‘great fire’ period was a worldwide event that reached almost every landmass during this period of Earth’s history,” but the new study shows that these fires reached as far south as in Antarctica.

Antarctica was on fire 75 million years ago, according to a team of international scientists who discovered fossilized plants (pictured) with charcoal characteristics dating back to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

The study is the first to identify fossilized macro-coal from James Ross Island, “confirming that paleo-forest fires have occurred in the Campanian vegetation preserved in the Santa Marta Formation,” the researchers wrote.

The research was published in the scientific journal Polar Research.

Millions of years ago, Antarctica was a utopia with green vegetation and flowering plants, but volcanoes also filled the landscape that turned Heaven into an uninhabitable hell.

The study’s principal investigator, Flaviana Jorge de Lima, a paleobiologist at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, said in a statement to Live Science: “This finding expands knowledge about the occurrence of wildfires. during the Cretaceous, showing that such episodes were more frequent than previously imagined.

The James Ross Archipelago is located next to the western tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and exhibits a sedimentary succession known as the Marambio Group of the Larsen Basin.

The once lush forests of James Ross Island were burnt to the ground in the late Cretaceous (100 to 66 million years ago), which experts say may have been fueled by volcanic activity caused by the tectonic.

The once lush forests of James Ross Island were burnt to the ground in the late Cretaceous (100 to 66 million years ago), which experts say may have been fueled by volcanic activity caused by the tectonic.

The fossilized samples were analyzed using a stereomicroscope, a binocular microscope which gives a relatively weak stereoscopic view of the subject.  This allowed the team to see deep inside the fossilized plants, revealing homogenized cell walls that confirmed the samples were charred.

The fossilized samples were analyzed using a stereomicroscope, a binocular microscope which gives a relatively weak stereoscopic view of the subject. This allowed the team to see deep inside the fossilized plants, revealing homogenized cell walls that confirmed the samples were charred.

The fossilized samples were analyzed using a stereomicroscope, a binocular microscope which gives a relatively weak stereoscopic view of the subject.

This allowed the team to see deep down fossilized plants, revealing homogenized cell walls that confirmed the samples were charred.

“Antarctica experienced intense volcanic activity caused by tectonics during the Cretaceous Period, as suggested by the presence of fossil remains in the ashfall strata,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“It is plausible that the volcanic activity ignited the paleofire that created the charcoal reported here.

Pictured is an artist's impression of the forest fires that ravaged Antarctica during the Cretaceous Period

Pictured is an artist’s impression of the forest fires that ravaged Antarctica during the Cretaceous Period

“Volcanic activity was also the proposed probable cause for the charcoal occurring in the Cretaceous deposits on Nelson Island.”

Nelson Island, located in West Antarctica, is the first region on the continent to produce evidence of ancient forest fires.

A 2015 expedition found similar fossilized plants that also included charcoal characteristics.

HOW THE DINOSAURS DEADLINE APPROXIMATELY 66 MILLION YEARS AGO

Dinosaurs ruled and dominated Earth about 66 million years ago, before suddenly disappearing.

The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is the name given to this mass extinction.

It was believed for many years that climate change was destroying the food chain of huge reptiles.

In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.

It is a rare element on Earth but found in large quantities in space.

When this was dated, it coincided precisely with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record.

A decade later, scientists discovered the enormous Chicxulub crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates from the period in question.

Scientific consensus now says that these two factors are related and that they were both likely caused by a huge asteroid crashing into Earth.

With the size and impact velocity projected, the collision would have caused a huge shock wave and likely triggered seismic activity.

The fallout would have created plumes of ash that would likely have covered the entire planet and made it impossible for the dinosaurs to survive.

Other animal and plant species had a shorter time interval between generations, which allowed them to survive.

There are several other theories as to what caused the famous animals to go extinct.

One of the earliest theories was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs and another proposes that poisonous angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them.