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TitleEcological disturbance in tropical peatlands prior to marine Permian-Triassic mass extinction
AuthorChu, D; Grasby, S EORCID logo; Song, H; Dal Corso, JORCID logo; Wang, Y; Mather, T AORCID logo; Song, H; Shu, W; Tong, J; Wignall, P B
SourceGeology vol. 48, issue 3, 2020 p. 288-292, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200041
PublisherGeological Society of America
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS 17.6681 17.6686 25.5472 25.5467
Lat/Long WENS 104.3608 104.3608 26.3131 26.3125
SubjectsScience and Technology; paleontology; marine geology; stratigraphy; peatlands; volcanism; peat; ecology; carbon isotopes; mercury; marine deposits; Siberian Traps; Triassic; Permian
Illustrationslocation maps; plots; graphs
ProgramGEM2: Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Western Arctic, High Arctic LIP
Released2020 01 03
AbstractThe Permian-Triassic mass extinction is widely attributed to the global environmental changes caused by the eruption of the Siberian Traps. However, the precise temporal link between marine and terrestrial crises and volcanism is unclear. Here, we report anomalously high mercury (Hg) concentrations in terrestrial strata from southwestern China, synchronous with Hg anomalies in the marine Permian-Triassic type section. The terrestrial sediments also record increased abundance of fossil charcoal coincident with the onset of a negative carbon isotope excursion and the loss of tropical rainforest vegetation, both of which occurred immediately before the peak of Hg concentrations. The organic carbon isotope data show an ~5%-6% negative excursion in terrestrial organic matter (bulk organic, cuticles, and charcoal), reflecting change in atmospheric CO2 carbon-isotope composition coincident with enhanced wildfire indicated by increased charcoal. Hg spikes provide a correlative tool between terrestrial and marine records along with carbon isotope trends. These data demonstrate that ecological deterioration occurred in tropical peatlands prior to the main marine mass extinction.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This study uses novel methods developed as part of GEM research that uses mercury concentrations in sediments as a fingerprint of enhanced volcanism in teh geologic record. This allows for the first time temporal correlation of marine and terrestrial records of the latest Permian extinction and demonstrates early land stress prior to the main marine extinction event. Results help our understanding of the impacts of global warming caused by volcanism has on earth systems.

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