A team of American scientists found the oldest evidence of forest fires of the world. Analysis of charcoal deposits found as far apart as Wales and Poland showed that the fire that destroyed the vegetation occurred 430 million years ago, 10 million years earlier than the latest records indicated.
At that time, however, the forest fires they have hardly destroyed tall trees, because the complex vegetation outside the water was just developing. On the contrary, the victims of the fire probably had low heights, except for the ancient prototaxite mushrooms that could reach up to nine meters in height, so they would have dominated the landscape.
What does it take for a forest fire to start?
For an i to occurforest fire three factors are required: fuel, an ignition source, and oxygen. “It appears that our evidence of forest fires coincides with evidence from the earliest plant macrofossils”said paleobotanist Ian Glasspool of Colby University in Maine.
“So as soon as there is fuel, at least in the form of plant macrofossils, there is forest fires practically instantly”, continued the expert. According to his conclusions, the landscape of the Silurian period would have had enough vegetation for the flames spread in such a way that there are records of said fire.
Scientists estimate that the source that started the fires was lightning, so only the last ingredient for disaster remains to be addressed: the amount of oxygen. The fact that the fire could have spread in such a way as to leave behind carbon deposits suggests that the oxygen levels on Earth were at least 16%.
However, the analysis of the American experts, whose conclusions were published in the journal Geology, indicates that the oxygen levels in the atmosphere could have been at 21%, that is, the same as the current ones, or that they would have even been higher. . This could be due to increased plant life and photosynthesis.