Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

A sudden end-Permian mass extinction in south China

Shen Shuzhong, Jahandar Ramezani, Chen Jun, Cao Changqun, Douglas H. Erwin, Zhang Hua, Xiang Lei, Shane D. Schoepfer, Charles M. Henderson, Zheng Quanfeng, Samuel A. Bowring, Wang Yue, Li Xianhua, Wang Xiangdong, Yuan Dongxun, Zhang Yichun, Mu Lin, Wang Jun and Wu Yasheng
A sudden end-Permian mass extinction in south China
Geological Society of America Bulletin (February 2019) 131 (1-2): 205-223


Previous studies of the end-Permian mass extinction have established that it was geologically rapid, but condensed sections have made it difficult to establish the exact timing of the extinction relative to fluctuations in the ocean carbon cycle, oxygen levels, and temperature. Integrated high-precision U-Pb geochronology, biostratigraphy, and chemostratigraphy from a highly expanded section at Penglaitan, Guangxi, South China reveal a sudden end-Permian mass extinction that occurred at 251.939+ or -0.031 Ma, which is temporally coincident with the extinction recorded in Bed 25 of the Meishan section. Despite the significantly expanded nature of the section and extensive collecting of more than ten major marine fossil groups, there is no evidence of a decline of biotic diversity prior to the extinction interval and no Permian-type species survive the extinction at this location. Fossil range data suggest a nearly instantaneous extinction at the top of a narrow stratigraphic interval limited to 31+ or -31 k.y. The extinction was preceded by and/or accompanied by fluctuations in delta (super 13) C (sub carb) and delta (super 13) C (sub org) of 2-3 ppm, and 3-5 degrees C in seawater temperature. A larger, more rapid seawater temperature rise of 6-8 degrees C immediately followed the extinction level at Penglaitan. The extinction is spatially associated with a thick unit of tuff and tuffaceous sandstones (Bed 141) indicating massive pyroclastic input. It is correlative with an ash layer (Bed 25) in the deeper water setting at Meishan, where some Permian-type organisms survived the extinction. Our study reveals that the survivability of Permian taxa after the major extinction pulse is variable and dependent upon the severity of environmental perturbation in different sedimentary settings. The sudden extinction may fit a scenario in which the onset of Siberian Traps and South China intensive volcanism approximately 420 k.y. before the extinction may have diminished the ecological resilience of communities and reduced ecological functions with little change in diversity. In such an environmentally stressed condition, a single environmental disturbance could trigger the sudden collapse of global ecosystems.

ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: 131
Serial Issue: 1-2
Title: A sudden end-Permian mass extinction in south China
Affiliation: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and Center for Excellence in Life and Palaeoenvironment, State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing, China
Pages: 205-223
Published: 201902
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 75
Accession Number: 2019-009243
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2018201
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch map
N23°41'43" - N23°41'43", E109°19'16" - E109°19'16"
Secondary Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, United StatesChinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, CHN, ChinaNational Museum of Natural History, USA, United StatesWestern Carolina University, USA, United StatesUniversity of Calgary, CAN, CanadaChinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, CHN, China
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201907
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal