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      High-precision geochronology confirms voluminous magmatism before, during, and after Earth’s most severe extinction

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          Abstract

          High-precision geochronology confirms voluminous magmatism before, during, and after Earth’s most severe mass extinction.

          Abstract

          The end-Permian mass extinction was the most severe in the Phanerozoic, extinguishing more than 90% of marine and 75% of terrestrial species in a maximum of 61 ± 48 ky. Because of broad temporal coincidence between the biotic crisis and one of the most voluminous continental volcanic eruptions since the origin of animals, the Siberian Traps large igneous province (LIP), a causal connection has long been suggested. Magmatism is hypothesized to have caused rapid injection of massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, driving climate change and subsequent destabilization of the biosphere. Establishing a causal connection between magmatism and mass extinction is critically dependent on accurately and precisely knowing the relative timing of the two events and the flux of magma. New U/Pb dates on Siberian Traps LIP lava flows, sills, and explosively erupted rocks indicate that (i) about two-thirds of the total lava/pyroclastic volume was erupted over ~300 ky, before and concurrent with the end-Permian mass extinction; (ii) eruption of the balance of lavas continued for at least 500 ky after extinction cessation; and (iii) massive emplacement of sills into the shallow crust began concomitant with the mass extinction and continued for at least 500 ky into the early Triassic. This age model is consistent with Siberian Traps LIP magmatism as a trigger for the end-Permian mass extinction and suggests a role for magmatism in suppression of post-extinction biotic recovery.

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          Most cited references 6

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          Large perturbations of the carbon cycle during recovery from the end-permian extinction.

          High-resolution carbon isotope measurements of multiple stratigraphic sections in south China demonstrate that the pronounced carbon isotopic excursion at the Permian-Triassic boundary was not an isolated event but the first in a series of large fluctuations that continued throughout the Early Triassic before ending abruptly early in the Middle Triassic. The unusual behavior of the carbon cycle coincides with the delayed recovery from end-Permian extinction recorded by fossils, suggesting a direct relationship between Earth system function and biological rediversification in the aftermath of Earth's most devastating mass extinction.
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            High-precision timeline for Earth's most severe extinction.

            The end-Permian mass extinction was the most severe loss of marine and terrestrial biota in the last 542 My. Understanding its cause and the controls on extinction/recovery dynamics depends on an accurate and precise age model. U-Pb zircon dates for five volcanic ash beds from the Global Stratotype Section and Point for the Permian-Triassic boundary at Meishan, China, define an age model for the extinction and allow exploration of the links between global environmental perturbation, carbon cycle disruption, mass extinction, and recovery at millennial timescales. The extinction occurred between 251.941 ± 0.037 and 251.880 ± 0.031 Mya, an interval of 60 ± 48 ka. Onset of a major reorganization of the carbon cycle immediately precedes the initiation of extinction and is punctuated by a sharp (3‰), short-lived negative spike in the isotopic composition of carbonate carbon. Carbon cycle volatility persists for ∼500 ka before a return to near preextinction values. Decamillenial to millennial level resolution of the mass extinction and its aftermath will permit a refined evaluation of the relative roles of rate-dependent processes contributing to the extinction, allowing insight into postextinction ecosystem expansion, and establish an accurate time point for evaluating the plausibility of trigger and kill mechanisms.
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              Zircon U-Pb geochronology links the end-Triassic extinction with the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province.

              The end-Triassic extinction is characterized by major losses in both terrestrial and marine diversity, setting the stage for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 136 million years. Despite the approximate coincidence between this extinction and flood basalt volcanism, existing geochronologic dates have insufficient resolution to confirm eruptive rates required to induce major climate perturbations. Here, we present new zircon uranium-lead (U-Pb) geochronologic constraints on the age and duration of flood basalt volcanism within the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. This chronology demonstrates synchroneity between the earliest volcanism and extinction, tests and corroborates the existing astrochronologic time scale, and shows that the release of magma and associated atmospheric flux occurred in four pulses over about 600,000 years, indicating expansive volcanism even as the biologic recovery was under way.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Adv
                Sci Adv
                SciAdv
                advances
                Science Advances
                American Association for the Advancement of Science
                2375-2548
                August 2015
                28 August 2015
                : 1
                : 7
                Affiliations
                Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
                Author notes
                [*]

                Present address: U.S. Geological Survey, Volcano Science Center, 345 Middlefield Road, Mail Stop 910, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.

                []Corresponding author. E-mail: sburgess@ 123456usgs.gov
                Article
                1500470
                10.1126/sciadv.1500470
                4643808
                Copyright © 2015, The Authors

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

                Funding
                Funded by: National Science Foundation;
                Award ID: ID0EWVAG2090
                Award ID: EAR-0807475
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: National Science Foundation;
                Award ID: ID0EG5AG2091
                Award ID: EAR-0931839
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Research Article
                Research Articles
                SciAdv r-articles
                Geology
                Earth Science
                Custom metadata
                Michael Sabado

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