The Gujo-Hachiman section in central Japan provides a rare window into environmental conditions within the Panthalassic Ocean, which encompassed more than half the Earth';s surface at 251 Ma. The section is characterized by a sharp transition from green-gray organic-poor cherts to black siliceous shales in the uppermost Permian. Normalization to the clay fraction demonstrates that apparent increases in the concentrations of organic matter and trace metals above this transition were due primarily to the loss of a diluent biogenic (radiolarian) silica flux and only secondarily to a small shift toward more reducing bottom waters. In the black shale, pyrite abundance increases by a factor of ∼30× and is dominated by framboidal grains of probable syngenetic origin. These observations suggest that the expansion of low-oxygen conditions within the Panthalassic Ocean was focused within the oxygen-minimum zone rather than at the seafloor. Such a pattern implies that (1) changes in nutrient fluxes and primary productivity rates, rather than stagnation of oceanic circulation, were a key factor influencing oceanic redox conditions around the Permian-Triassic boundary, and (2) large regions of the Panthalassic Ocean underwent only limited redox changes, providing potential refugia for marine taxa that survived into the Triassic.

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