Potential secondary influences on titanium distribution should be evaluated when using ash beds as volcanic source indicators and for correlation purposes. In this study, well-correlated altered ash beds in Permian–Triassic boundary (PTB) successions of various facies in South China were investigated to better understand their use in source discrimination and stratigraphic correlation. The ash beds deposited in lacustrine and paludal facies contain significantly more Ti relative to deposits in marine facies. Neoformed anatase grains nanometres to micrometres in size are associated closely with clay minerals, whereas detrital anatase was observed in the remnants of altered ash beds of terrestrial facies. Extraction of the clay fraction of altered ash beds may exclude significantly detrital accessory minerals such as anatase and rutile added during sediment reworking, and the concentrations of immobile elements in the clay fraction may therefore be used to interpret more effectively their source igneous rocks.