A continental movement could cause a mass extinction in marine life

“Continental drift seems so slow, like nothing drastic could come from it, but when the ocean is primed, even a seemingly tiny event could trigger the widespread death of marine life,” said Andy Ridgwell, the co-author of the study.

A continental trigger may wipe-out deep ocean life, study says

Marine life could vanish because of the continental moves.

But how is that possible?

When the water on the ocean surface approaches the north and south poles, it cools, condenses, and then sinks. As the water sinks, the atmosphere pulled from Earth’s surroundings is carried to the ocean floor, reported Eurekalert.

A return flow brings nutrients released from sunken organic matter back to the ocean’s surface, where it fuels the growth of plankton and this causes a great amount of marine animal diversity.

However, new findings indicate that oxygen circulation and nutrients can end all of a sudden. The researchers investigated whether the locations of continental plates affect how the ocean moves oxygen around by using complex computer models.

“Many millions of years ago, not so long after animal life in the ocean got started, the entire global ocean circulation seemed to periodically shut down,” said Ridgwell. “We were not expecting to find that the movement of continents could cause surface waters and oxygen to stop sinking, and possibly dramatically affecting the way life evolved on Earth.”

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