Abstract

Although the Late Triassic was a time of widespread aridity, evidence exists for a significant increase in rainfall during the middle to late Carnian. Upper Triassic playa-lake sediments were interrupted by late Carnian fluviatile sandstones with erosive bases and high kao-linite/illite ratios. There was also an increase in the clastic component of marine sequences during this interval. Middle and upper Carnian marine carbonates show an extreme depletion in δ13C values, consistent with increased fresh-water influx. Large-scale karstic phenomena in limestone areas subaerially exposed during the Late Triassic are a further indication of increased rainfall. Important faunal and floral changes occurred during the Carnian-Norian interval; marine invertebrate turnover was greatest at the lower/middle Carnian boundary, and terrestrial extinctions were concentrated at the Carnian/Norian boundary. The cause of this Carnian pluvial episode may have been related to the rifting of Pangea, through disruption of atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns, eustatic changes, or the effects of volcanism associated with rifting. A change in surface ocean temperature, salinity or pH, or habitat loss may have caused the decline of many shallow-marine invertebrates at the start of the middle Carnian; a return to arid conditions at the Carnian/Norian boundary would account for the turnover among terrestrial vertebrates and plants.

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