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Diachronous end-Permian terrestrial ecosystem collapse with its origin in wildfires

Lu, Jing; Wang, Ye; Yang, Minfang; Zhang, Peixin; Bond, David P.G.; Shao, Longyi; Hilton, Jason


Jing Lu

Ye Wang

Minfang Yang

Peixin Zhang

Longyi Shao

Jason Hilton


The Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction (PTME) is the greatest biodiversity crisis in Earth history and while the marine crisis is increasingly well constrained, the timing and cause(s) of terrestrial losses remain poorly understood. There have been suggestions that the End-Permian Terrestrial Collapse (EPTC) pre-dated, was synchronous with or post-dated the marine crisis, or even occurred asynchronously in different regions. We address these conflicting interpretations through a detailed geochemical study of a terrestrial sequence in the Liujiang Coalfield on the North China Plate (NCP) in which we apply zircon U-Pb dating of tuffaceous claystone, kerogen identification, and analysis of organic carbon isotopic composition (δ13Corg), total organic carbon (TOC), continental weathering (via the chemical index of alteration; CIA) and Ni concentrations. Our study constrains the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) near the base of bed 20 in our sequence at approximately 251.9 ± 1.1 Ma, immediately above a Ni anomaly also known from other terrestrial sequences and the marine PTME. Organic carbon isotope chemostratigraphy together with evidence for algal blooms and the presence of mudstone clasts suggests that the onset of the EPTC in the NCP was synchronous with the crisis in low latitudes (e.g., South China), but was about 310 kyr later than the EPTC in higher southerly latitudes (e.g., Australia). The EPTC predates the marine PTME. Kerogen macerals suggest that a phase of increased wildfire was sustained from the onset of the EPTC in the NCP until the marine PTME interval, implicating wildfire as a major driver of the EPTC (at least in low latitudes) that, in turn, had devastating consequences for the marine realm.


Lu, J., Wang, Y., Yang, M., Zhang, P., Bond, D. P., Shao, L., & Hilton, J. (2022). Diachronous end-Permian terrestrial ecosystem collapse with its origin in wildfires. Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, 594, Article 110960.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 24, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 28, 2022
Publication Date May 15, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Print ISSN 0031-0182
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 594
Article Number 110960
Keywords Terrestrial ecosystem collapse; Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction; U-Pb dating; Ni concentration; Organic carbon isotopes; North China Plate
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