A well-known second-order mass extinction took place during the Pliensbachian and Toarcian Stages of the Early Jurassic. First recognized as a minor Pliensbachian peak in the global extinction rate, it has alternatively been interpreted as a regional response to the early Toarcian oceanic anoxic event. Detailed studies established it as a global long-term event spanning five successive ammonoid zones. Here we present a revised time scale based on high-precision U-Pb ages resolved to the zone level, which suggests that elevated extinction rates were sustained for about 4 m.y. and peak extinction occurred at 183 Ma. Recent isotopic dating of flood basalts from the southern Gondwanan Karoo and Ferrar provinces documents a culmination in volcanic activity ca. 183 Ma. The onset of volcanism is recorded as an inflection and start of a rapid rise of the seawater 87Sr/86Sr curve. The synchrony of voluminous flood basalt eruptions and biotic crises, as already noted for three of the major mass extinctions, permits a causal relationship, which in this case may be mediated by widespread oceanic anoxia.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.