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Sephton and his team hoped that the sedimentary layers would hold the key to explaining the Great Dying.When they examined the end-permian rock samples, they found a compound called vanillin. "It just jumped out at us when we analyzed the rocks. It also happens to be a flavoring agent in the food industry." The team learned from food researchers that vanillin will oxidize to vanillic acid when the ph is neutral or high.
"The basalts that poured out are now called the Siberian Traps and are some of the largest of their type.All of this could be seen as a warning of what can happen if the climate gets too out of whack, since man-made pollution can produce similar effects, scientists say.To get a closer look at what happened at the end of the Permian Period, around 250 million years ago, an international team of scientists pored over samples from rock cliffs in the Italian Dolomites, which contain a clear historical record of life before, during and after the Great Dying."All five big extinctions are associated with flood basalts." We might be able to learn something about the worst-case climate change scenario by studying the end-permian extinction, Sephton says."The influences we are recording are pulses of acid rain which repeatedly hit the biosphere hard," Sephton said.