Pahoehoe lava flows are common in every basaltic province, and their submarine variants, pillow lavas and sheet flows, cover the bulk of the Earth. Pahoehoe flows are emplaced by inflation—the injection of molten lava underneath a solidified crust. Only in the past few years has an understanding of the inflation process and the ability to recognize ancient inflated lava flows been achieved. All large terrestrial basaltic flow fields studied to date, including flood basalts, were emplaced as thermally efficient, inflated, compound pahoehoe sheet flows. This leads us to propose that this is the standard way of emplacing large lavas (the SWELL hypothesis). The atmospheric impact of such flood basalt eruptions could have been protracted and severe, providing a plausible link between flood basalt eruptions and mass extinctions.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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