A recent international study indicated how the present massive destructions of terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems run parallel to the “Great Dying.” The latter, refers to “The Permian-Triassic” extinction that previous scientific studies haverevealed as having taken place about 252 million years ago.
The period saw the destruction of up to 96% of marine species. Yet the marine extinction happened after disruptions in terrestrial ecosystems, when there was already loss of about 70% of various land species, as well as extensive loss of plant diversity and paramount soil erosion.
Computer Model Tracked Changes that Transpired Before “The Great Dying”
A team of researchers from the University of Leeds developed a computer model, which charted the chemical changes that transpired in the Earth’s oceans, before the Permian-Triassic extinction period.
They were able to track the cycling of poisonous mercury emissions that were released by volcanoes, and how the circulating toxic elements were absorbed by terrestrial living organisms. In tracing both carbon and mercury cycles, and at the same time comparing their incorporation in ancient rocks, the researchers were able to distinguish biological from volcanic events.
Their findings showed that the excessive amount of mercury and carbon absorbed by terrestrial living organisms, led to the massive destruction of ecosystems.
Separate studies have already proven that many marine living organisms rely heavily on chemical stability in their aquatic environment. It is unlikely therefore that the outpouring of chemical elements coming from eroding soils is not without consequence.
While the study has yet to determine the exact cause of the massive Permian-Triassic extinction, the new study provided insight that showed terrestrial ecosystems were nearly wiped out prior to the massive destruction of the marine ecosystems.
Until now it remains unclear how the terrestrial extinction affected the chemistry of the ancient oceans. Yet the Leeds research presented the possibility that the massive terrestrial collapse that transpired, brought on a deluge of of nutrients, organic matter and other biologically significant elements into the marine ecosystem.
Significant Revelations Derived from the Study of the “Great Dying”
Co-author of the study, Dr Jacopo Dal Corso remarked that the deep-time example underscores importance of the terrestrial reservoir in regulating biogeochemical cycles worldwide, which greater conservation of ecosystems critical.
Dr Benjamin Mills, from the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds University and also a study co-author said:
“The insights presented an uncomfortable parallel with our modern, human-driven land use and our transfers of large quantities of chemicals and nutrients to the oceans.
Dr. Mills added that the world is looking to restart economies after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must make it a priority to protect the Earth’s life-sustaining ecosystems. “