Scientists debunk the myth of “China’s Pompeii”

Paleontologists have long believed a huge swathe  of well-preserved dinosaur fossils in China’s northeastern Yixian Formation were the result of a single, violent volcanic event that killed thousands of dinosaurs more than 100 million years ago.

The theoretical occurrence was given the title “China’s Pompeii” due to its seeming similarity to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

But a recent study examining the sediment in the area has deteremined the large fossil deposits were the result of several floods rather than a single volcanic event.

Scientists from the University of Bristol, with cooperation from several UK universities, collected samples and used previous studies to determine the volcanic sediment and fossils in the area were likely deposited by water in multiple events.

“Fossils of the Lujiatun Unit occur in several horizons of volcaniclastic sediments that represent multiple depositional events,” the study,The Chinese Pompeii? Death and destruction of dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous of Lujiatun, NE China, said.

“Petrological analysis shows that the fossil-bearing sediments were remobilised and deposited by water.”

“The Lujiatun dinosaurs and other fossils were therefore not killed by a single airborne volcanic ash, but in multiple flood events with a high load of volcaniclastic debris.”

It was published online by Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology on March 28.