How a Devastating Volcano Began the Mass Extinction of Dinosaurs Before the Asteroid Hit

The incredibly insightful series Kurzgesagt put together a colorful animation explaining how a devastating volcano emitting from the Deccan Traps on what was then the island-nation of India most certainly caused the beginning of the end for the dinosaurs that had once ruled the Earth.

India was still a continent-sized tropical island….on its way to smash into Asia…The Deccan Traps – a volcanic region a thousand kilometers wide and about to come to life in a dramatic fashion. The apocalypse began quietly and silently. 

This massive volcano spewed toxic amounts of sulfur dioxide and other gases that killed the atmosphere along with thousands of animals.

About 800,000 years before the impact, the Deccan Traps began to exhale about 10 million tonnes of CO2 and sulfur dioxide each year. For half a million years, they started  to dangerously pile up in the atmosphere. About 300,000 years before the asteroid, the Deccan Traps started to vomit lava. This was nothing like a normal eruption – it was  a lava flood. …They were constantly active, releasing a steady flow of massive amounts of poison and lava, interrupted by much more violent and deadly eruptions.

The eruptions reached the mainland and became even more ferocious.

About 50,000 years before impact, the true apocalypse came. Like a cosmic  horror breaking out of its prison, the Deccan Traps roared and screamed and  began to spew out tens of trillions of tons of magma and even more deadly gasses  in an onslaught that lasted for several thousand years. Rolling over ecosystems, devastating everything they reached.

And then the asteroid hit, creating the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula. This event caused an impact winter that essentially wiped off all non-aviary life on Earth.

Like a cosmic joke, on the other side of the world, a bright dot of light appeared in the sky. And an instant later, an asteroid 10 km across  smashed into earth with the power of 4 billion atomic bombs.

Massive Volcano Dinosaur Extinction
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.