Abstract

Severe changes in ocean redox, nutrient cycling, and marine productivity accompanied most Phanerozoic mass extinctions. However, evidence for marine photic zone euxinia (PZE) as a globally important extinction mechanism for the end-Triassic extinction (ETE) is currently lacking. Fossil molecular (biomarker) and nitrogen isotopic records from a sedimentary sequence in western Canada provide the first conclusive evidence of PZE and disrupted biogeochemistry in neritic waters of the Panthalassic Ocean during the end Triassic. Increasing water-column stratification and deoxygenation across the ETE led to PZE in the Early Jurassic, paralleled by a perturbed nitrogen cycle and ecological turnovers among noncalcifying groups, including eukaryotic algae and prokaryotic plankton. If such conditions developed widely in the Panthalassic Ocean, PZE might have been a potent mechanism for the ETE.

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