Millard Coffin will speak about mass extinctions at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on July 26. PHOTO COURTESY OF MILLARD COFFIN

Mass extinctions to be discussed

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Professor Millard Coffin will be at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on Tuesday, July 26, at 5:30 p.m. to talk about the five mass extinctions Earth has experienced over its 4.5 billion-year history.

The probable reasons for these extinctions range from extraterrestrial bolide impacts to massive flood volcanism. Human activities also have significantly impacted the Earth and show similarities to past episodes of mass extinctions.

Current extinction rates are high, global environments are changing, the ocean is becoming more acidic and less oxygenated, and chemical pollution is widespread. Evidence suggests that a mass extinction, defined when Earth loses more than 75 percent of its total estimated species in a geologically short interval, may now be underway, driven by humans.

Coffin has spent his career investigating the interactions between the oceanic environment and the solid Earth. After growing up in Bangor and Surry, he earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his doctorate from Columbia University. He has worked and held leadership positions at various institutes, agencies and universities around the world. Coffin has led or participated in 32 blue-water research expeditions, focusing mainly in the Southern Pacific and Indian oceans.

Call the library at 244-7065.

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