Extrinsic forcing of plant ecosystems in a large igneous province

The Columbia River flood basalt province, Washington State, USA

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Abstract

Volcanism associated with large igneous provinces (LIPs) has been implicated in both global climate and environmental change. To determine the impact of LIP volcanism on plant ecology we have examined plant community succession in sedimentary interbeds of the Columbia River flood basalt province (CRBP; northwest United States). Interbasaltic vegetation is characterized by primary succession communities that inhabit fresh lava surfaces until terminated by the next eruptive event, and it is assumed that longer volcanic hiatuses should lead to more mature plant communities. This expected succession trajectory is contradicted by palynological data that show that seral succession declines during the phase of waning CRPB volcanism and prolonged interbed intervals. Frequent volcanic activity and increased deposition of Snake River Plain hotspot ashes during this phase resulted in ecological disturbance of intralava field vegetation. Together with geochemical proxies from interbed sediments, this suggests that CRBP flora was largely driven by extrinsic forcing, and implies that LIP volcanism of similar scale and magnitude to that of the CRBP had a limited environmental impact. This study supports the theory that past biotic extinctions were triggered by numerous factors rather than a single geological event.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1110
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume43
Issue number12
Early online date6 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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large igneous province
flood basalt
volcanism
ecosystem
river
plant community
primary succession
vegetation
alluvial plain
lava
global climate
hot spot
environmental change
flora
ash
environmental impact
extinction
trajectory
disturbance
climate change

Cite this

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title = "Extrinsic forcing of plant ecosystems in a large igneous province: The Columbia River flood basalt province, Washington State, USA",
abstract = "Volcanism associated with large igneous provinces (LIPs) has been implicated in both global climate and environmental change. To determine the impact of LIP volcanism on plant ecology we have examined plant community succession in sedimentary interbeds of the Columbia River flood basalt province (CRBP; northwest United States). Interbasaltic vegetation is characterized by primary succession communities that inhabit fresh lava surfaces until terminated by the next eruptive event, and it is assumed that longer volcanic hiatuses should lead to more mature plant communities. This expected succession trajectory is contradicted by palynological data that show that seral succession declines during the phase of waning CRPB volcanism and prolonged interbed intervals. Frequent volcanic activity and increased deposition of Snake River Plain hotspot ashes during this phase resulted in ecological disturbance of intralava field vegetation. Together with geochemical proxies from interbed sediments, this suggests that CRBP flora was largely driven by extrinsic forcing, and implies that LIP volcanism of similar scale and magnitude to that of the CRBP had a limited environmental impact. This study supports the theory that past biotic extinctions were triggered by numerous factors rather than a single geological event.",
author = "Alena Ebinghaus and Jolley, {David W} and Hartley, {Adrian J}",
year = "2015",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1130/G37276.1",
language = "English",
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pages = "1107--1110",
journal = "Geology",
issn = "0091-7613",
publisher = "GEOLOGICAL SOC AMER, INC",
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T1 - Extrinsic forcing of plant ecosystems in a large igneous province

T2 - The Columbia River flood basalt province, Washington State, USA

AU - Ebinghaus, Alena

AU - Jolley, David W

AU - Hartley, Adrian J

PY - 2015/12

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N2 - Volcanism associated with large igneous provinces (LIPs) has been implicated in both global climate and environmental change. To determine the impact of LIP volcanism on plant ecology we have examined plant community succession in sedimentary interbeds of the Columbia River flood basalt province (CRBP; northwest United States). Interbasaltic vegetation is characterized by primary succession communities that inhabit fresh lava surfaces until terminated by the next eruptive event, and it is assumed that longer volcanic hiatuses should lead to more mature plant communities. This expected succession trajectory is contradicted by palynological data that show that seral succession declines during the phase of waning CRPB volcanism and prolonged interbed intervals. Frequent volcanic activity and increased deposition of Snake River Plain hotspot ashes during this phase resulted in ecological disturbance of intralava field vegetation. Together with geochemical proxies from interbed sediments, this suggests that CRBP flora was largely driven by extrinsic forcing, and implies that LIP volcanism of similar scale and magnitude to that of the CRBP had a limited environmental impact. This study supports the theory that past biotic extinctions were triggered by numerous factors rather than a single geological event.

AB - Volcanism associated with large igneous provinces (LIPs) has been implicated in both global climate and environmental change. To determine the impact of LIP volcanism on plant ecology we have examined plant community succession in sedimentary interbeds of the Columbia River flood basalt province (CRBP; northwest United States). Interbasaltic vegetation is characterized by primary succession communities that inhabit fresh lava surfaces until terminated by the next eruptive event, and it is assumed that longer volcanic hiatuses should lead to more mature plant communities. This expected succession trajectory is contradicted by palynological data that show that seral succession declines during the phase of waning CRPB volcanism and prolonged interbed intervals. Frequent volcanic activity and increased deposition of Snake River Plain hotspot ashes during this phase resulted in ecological disturbance of intralava field vegetation. Together with geochemical proxies from interbed sediments, this suggests that CRBP flora was largely driven by extrinsic forcing, and implies that LIP volcanism of similar scale and magnitude to that of the CRBP had a limited environmental impact. This study supports the theory that past biotic extinctions were triggered by numerous factors rather than a single geological event.

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