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Dedicated to the memory of William T. Holser, colleague and friend.

A gap in the fossil record of coals and coral reefs during the Early Triassic follows the greatest of mass extinctions at the Permian-Triassic boundary. Catastrophic methane outbursts during terminal Permian global mass extinction are indicated by organic carbon isotopic (δ13Corg) values of less than –37‰, and preferential sequestration of 13C-depleted carbon at high latitudes and on land, relative to low latitudes and deep ocean. Methane outbursts massive enough to account for observed carbon isotopic anomalies require unusually efficient release from thermal alteration of...

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