Your Life as Planet Earth

A new way to understand the story of the Earth, its climate and our origins

Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs)

A large Igneous Province eruption

A Large Igneous Province (LIP) during eruption loosely based on Svensen et al EPSL 2009Howarth et al Lithos 2014, Elkins-Tanton GSA Spec Pub 2005, Keller et al J Geol Soc India 2011Li et al Nature Geoscience 2014

All volcanic eruptions have a short-lived cooling effect from their sulfur emissions, and collectively, over many millions of years, their CO2 emissions keep the planet from freezing solid. LIPs, in contrast, tend to generate strong global warming through the extraordinarily huge quantities of greenhouse gasses they emit in a comparatively short time. LIPs are roughly 40 times larger than even the biggest volcano of today (Hawaii).

 LIPs are correlated with most of the severe extinctions in our planet's past (a correlation so strong that there is a “negligible 6×10–9% probability that such correlation is due to chance alone"). This strongly supports a causal relationship between LIPs and severe extinctions during the time since complex life evolved.