Abstract

A drastic environmental change occurred during the Middle to Late Jurassic as much of East Asia transitioned from a wet seasonal to an extremely arid climate. The timing, scope, and especially mechanism for this aridification are contentious. In this study, we report paleomagnetic data and ages from Jurassic volcanic rocks in North China and for the first time reveal a large-scale southward displacement of ∼25° for the Eastern Asian blocks (EABs) sometime between 174 ± 6 Ma and 157 ± 4 Ma. We suggest that the rapid motion documented by our paleomagnetic studies resulted from large-scale true polar wander (TPW). The TPW rotation displaced the EABs from the Northern Hemisphere humid-temperate belt into the subtropical/tropical arid zone. The resultant latitudinal motion coincided with a remarkable environmental change recorded over 10,000,000 km2 in East Asia between ca. 165 Ma and 155 Ma. We call the climate transition the “Great Jurassic East Asian Aridification” and argue that TPW-induced climatic shifts were also responsible for the demise of the Yanliao Biota and subsequent radiation of the Jehol Biota during the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous.

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