Salt Lake Extinction

on April 4, 2009

ScienceDaily: “New Theory on Largest Known Mass Extinction in Earth’s History” Yet another explanation for a catastrophic mass extinction—could it be?

Even for uniformitarians, the geologic record is filled with evidence of catastrophe. Whereas creationists see most of the fossil record as evidence of one great worldwide catastrophe (viz., the Flood of Noah’s day), old-earthers find several major “extinction events” and many more minor ones, each blamed on various hypothetical culprits.

The giant salt lakes could have emitted halogenated gases that altered the atmosphere and destroyed most plant life.

The latest suspects in the case of the Permian–Triassic extinction event—said to have occurred 250 million years ago—are giant salt lakes. According to Ludwig Weißflog of the Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research and his teammates, the giant salt lakes could have emitted halogenated gases that altered the atmosphere and destroyed most plant life.

Microbial processes in modern salt lakes produce “highly volatile” halocarbons including chloroform, trichloroethene, and tetrachloroethene. Weißflog’s team measured the devastating effect modern salt lakes have on surrounding vegetation: they steadily increase desertification as plants struggle to survive in the super-dry environment.

“Our calculations show that airborne pollutants from giant salt lakes like the Zechstein Sea must have had catastrophic effects at that time,” Weißflog explained. (The Zechstein Sea was a hypothetical body of water said to cover Central Europe 250 million years ago.) The researchers calculated that the sea would have produced between five and twenty times the volatile halocarbon (VHC) emissions as all modern-day factories combined.

ScienceDaily notes that the Permian–Triassic mass extinction has previously been blamed on “volcanic eruptions, the impacts of asteroids, or methane hydrate.” Speaking to those hypotheses, Weißflog admitted, “The question as to whether the halogenated gases from the giant salt lakes alone were responsible for [the extinction event] or whether it was a combination of various factors with volcanic eruptions, the impact of asteroids, or methane hydrate equally playing their role still remains unanswered.”

Watching as old-earthers continue to speculate explanation upon explanation for mass extinctions grows increasingly humorous—and increasingly frustrating. The global Flood explains the worldwide layers of sediment we find that together house a fossil graveyard—a monument to the devastation of the Flood year. Yet many scientists scoff at such a huge catastrophe even while positing their own. It brings 2 Peter 3:5–7 to mind, doesn’t it?

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