A volcanic scenario for the Frasnian–Famennian major biotic crisis and other Late Devonian global changes: More answers than questions?
Abstract Although the prime causation of the Late Devonian Frasnian–Famennian (F–F) mass extinction remains conjectural, such destructive factors as the spread of anoxia and rapid upheavals in the runaway greenhouse climate are generally accepted in the Earth-bound multicausal scenario. In terms of prime triggers of these global changes, volcanism paroxysm coupled with the Eovariscan tectonism has been suspected for many years. However, the recent discovery of multiple anomalous mercury enrichments at the worldwide scale provides a reliable factual basis for proposing a volcanic–tectonic scenario for the stepwise F–F ecological catastrophe, specifically the Kellwasser (KW) Crisis. A focus is usually on the cataclysmic emplacement of the Viluy large igneous province (LIP) in eastern Siberia. However, the long-lasted effusive outpouring was likely episodically paired with amplified arc magmatism and hydrothermal activity, and the rapid climate oscillations and glacioustatic responses could in fact have been promoted by diverse feedbacks driven by volcanism and tectonics. The anti-greenhouse effect of expanding intertidal–estuarine and riparian woodlands during transient CO2-greenhouse spikes was another key feedback on Late Devonian land. An updated volcanic press-pulse model is proposed with reference to the recent timing of LIPs and arc magmatism and the revised date of 371.9 Ma for the F–F boundary. The global changes were initiated by the pre-KW effusive activity of LIPs, which caused extreme stress in the global ecosystem. Nevertheless, at least two decisive pulses of sill-type intrusions and/or kimberlite/carbonatite eruptions, in addition to flood basalt extrusions on the East European Platform, are thought to have eventually led to the end-Frasnian ecological catastrophe. These stimuli have been enhanced by effective orbital modulation. An attractive option is to apply the scenario to other Late Devonian global events, as evidences in particular by the Hg spikes that coincide with the end-Famennian Hangenberg Crisis.