“I really wanted to find this place that was rumored where there were a lot of rocks that result from explosive volcanic eruptions,” Elkins-Tanton says, “because that’s the only way that we know of that you can effectively drive chemicals into the upper atmosphere where they’ll get spun around the whole planet.” She was closing in on the geological signals of apocalyptic climate change.
Before this region of Siberia tried to destroy all multicellular life on the planet, it was a peaceful inland sea, which dried up and left an “evaporite basin.” The water’s evaporation deposited a layer of limestone and minerals rich in chlorine and bromine—think of it as being like the gunk that’s left when you forget coffee or tea in a cup. Eventually, a swamp grew on top of this mineral layer. As plants and animals decomposed, they deposited layers of coal, oil, and gas. “So basically