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TitleToxic mercury pulses into Late Permian terrestrial and marine environments
AuthorGrasby, S EORCID logo; Liu, X; Yin, R; Ernst, R E; Chen, ZORCID logo
SourceGeology vol. 48, issue 8, 2020 p. 830-833, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200038
PublisherGeological Society of America
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
Subjectsstratigraphy; geochemistry; paleontology; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; Upper Permian; magmatism; volcanism; paleoenvironment; paleoecology; mercury geochemistry; extinctions, biotic; atmospheric geochemistry; sediment geochemistry; ecosystems; Siberian Traps; Biology; Aquatic ecosystems; Terrestrial ecosystems; Phanerozoic; Paleozoic; Permian
Illustrationsmodels; time series
ProgramGEM2: Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Western Arctic Sverdrup Basin
Released2020 05 19
AbstractLarge spikes in mercury concentration are observed globally at the Late Permian extinction (LPE) horizon that are thought to be related to enhanced volcanic emissions of the Siberian Trap Large Igneous Province (LIP). While forming an effective chemostratigraphic marker, it remains unclear if such enhanced volcanic mercury emissions could have generated toxic conditions that contributed to extinction processes. To address this, we examined the nature of enhanced mercury emissions from the Siberian Traps LIP and the potential impact it may have had on global ecosystems during the LPE. Model results for a LIP eruption predict that pulses of mercury emissions to the atmosphere would have been orders of magnitude greater than normal background conditions. When deposited into world environments, this would have generated a serious of toxic shocks, each lasting >1000 years. Such repeated mercury loading events would have had severe impact across marine trophic levels, as well as being toxic to terrestrial plant and animal life. Such high Hg loading rates may help explain co-occurrence of marine and terrestrial extinctions.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This study examines the use of mercury as a chemostratigraphic marker of large igneous province eruptions as well as the impact that such mercury release could have had on the global environment. Results show that major eruptions could release toxic levels of mercury to the global environment.

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