Here is an abstract for a paper I presented at the 1998 International System Dynamics Conference in Quebec City.
Eruption, Impact, and Marine Regression:
A Dynamic Model of the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinctions
The diversity of life on Earth has generally increased since its inception over 3 billion years ago. But there have been a handful of abrupt reversals in that time. The best known reversal, or mass extinction, occurred 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period at a point called by paleontologists the K/T boundary. Several causal chains have been cited over the years. Currently, the most popular ultimate causes among paleontologists are:
- Volcanic eruptions in India -- the Deccan traps -- causing extended darkness, cooling, and wildfire.
- Bolide impact in the Yucatan, also causing extended darkness, cooling, and wildfire but in a much shorter time.
- Sea level changes, with attendant changes in habitats and the distribution of land & water surfaces.
This paper examines the geography of Late Cretaceous Earth, the factors responsible for its biodiversity potential, and how continental topology affected that diversity. The response of biodiversity to slow and rapid changes in energy availability, sea level, and continental distribution are simulated, individually and in combination.
The author draws primarily from J. David Archibald, Dinosaur Extinction and the End of an Era -- What the Fossils Say, 1996. This paper also builds on the research he presented at ISDC '97 in a paper entitled "Sustaining Life: The Origin, Diversity, and Extinction of Species”. It differs from that work by focusing on the K/T boundary, 65 million years ago, and by more closely examining through simulation the plausibility of competing scenarios of extinctions at that time.
Presentation (in Lotus Freelance Graphics):