GSA Today
Volume 22, Number 2 (February 2012)

Cover image

About the cover:
Thick basalts like this exposure in the Snake River Canyon of Idaho are genetically connected with the older Columbia River Basalts. The peak eruptive pulse of the Columbia River Basalts was probably responsible for ~1.5 °C of global warming as the result of releasing, in just over 400,000 years—as much carbon dioxide as human fossil-fuel burning emits in a century at current rates. Older and larger large igneous provinces (LIPs) have been linked to onset of hothouse climate and mass extinction at multiple intervals in Earth’s history. The Kidder and Worsley article in this issue explores the interplay between LIPs, warming feedbacks, and cooling feedbacks in considering whether carbon dioxide release via human fossil-fuel burning can force a hothouse climate. (Photo courtesy of K.E.A. Giles.) See related article, p. 4–11.

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