Flood basalt

A flood basalt (or plateau basalt[1]) is the result of a giant volcanic eruption or series of eruptions that covers large stretches of land or the ocean floor with basalt lava. Many flood basalts have been attributed to the onset of a hotspot reaching the surface of the earth via a mantle plume.[2] Flood basalt provinces such as the Deccan Traps of India are often called traps, after the Swedish word trappa (meaning "staircase"), due to the characteristic stairstep geomorphology of many associated landscapes.

Moses Coulee in the US showing multiple flood basalt flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group. The upper basalt is Roza Member, while the lower canyon exposes Frenchmen Springs Member basalt

Michael R. Rampino and Richard Stothers (1988) cited eleven distinct flood basalt episodes occurring in the past 250 million years, creating large igneous provinces, lava plateaus, and mountain ranges.[3] However, more have been recognized such as the large Ontong Java Plateau,[4] and the Chilcotin Group, though the latter may be linked to the Columbia River Basalt Group.

Large igneous provinces have been connected to five mass extinction events, and may be associated with bolide impacts.[5]


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