Eruption of the Siberian Traps large igneous province (LIP) is thought to have triggered the Permian-Triassic biological crisis, the largest of the Phanerozoic mass extinctions. Mercury concentration enrichments have been widely used as a proxy for volcanic inputs to sediments, especially for ancient LIP eruptions. However, detailed correlations of magmatic pulses with extinction events in the terrestrial and marine realms are not fully resolved. Here we use paired coronene (a six-ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, a high-temperature combustion proxy) and mercury spikes as a refined proxy for LIP emplacement. In records from stratigraphic sections in south China and Italy, we identify two sets of paired coronene-mercury spikes accompanied by land plant biomarker spikes, followed by a rapid decrease coinciding with terrestrial ecological disturbance and extinction of marine metazoans. Each short-term episode is likely caused by high-temperature combustion of sedimentary hydrocarbons during initial sill emplacement of the Siberian Traps LIP. These data indicate that discrete volcanic eruptions could have caused the terrestrial ecosystem crisis followed by the marine ecosystem crisis in ~60 k.y., and that the terrestrial ecosystem was disrupted by smaller global environmental changes than the marine ecosystem.

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