Abstract

Iridium abundance anomalies have been found on a global scale in the Devonian-Car-boniferous (D-C) boundary interval, which records one of the largest Phanerozoic mass-extinction events, an event that devastated many groups of living organisms, such as plants, ammonoids, trilobites, conodonts, fish, foraminiferans, brachiopods, and ostracodes. At or very close to the D-C boundary, there exists a geographically widespread black-shale interval, and Ir abundances reach anomalous maxima of 0.148 ppb (Montagne Noire, France), 0.138 ppb (Alberta, Canada) 0.140 ppb (Carnic Alps, Austria), 0.156 ppb (Guangxi, China), 0.258 ppb (Guizhou, China), and 0.250 ppb (Oklahoma). The discovery of global D-C Ir anomalies argues for an impact-extinction model. However, nonchondritic ratios of Ir to other important elements and a lack of physical evidence (shocked quartz, microtektites) do not support such a scenario. The fact that all Ir abundance maxima are at sharp redox boundaries in these sections leads us to conclude that the Ir anomalies likely resulted from a sudden change in paleo-redox conditions during deposition and/or early diagenesis.

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