Stratigraphic records from northwestern Pangea provide unique insight into global processes that occurred during the latest Permian extinction (LPE). We examined a detailed geochemical record of the Festningen section, Spitsbergen. A stepwise extinction is noted as: starting with (1) loss of carbonate shelly macrofauna, followed by (2) loss of siliceous sponges in conjunction with an abrupt change in ichnofabrics as well as dramatic change in the terrestrial environment, and (3) final loss of all trace fossils. We interpret loss of carbonate producers as related to shoaling of the lysocline in higher latitudes, in relationship to building atmospheric CO2. The loss of siliceous sponges is coincident with the global LPE event and is related to onset of high loading rates of toxic metals (Hg, As, Co) that we suggest are derived from Siberian Trap eruptions. The final extinction stage is coincident with redox-sensitive trace metal and other proxy data that suggest onset of anoxia after the other extinction events. These results show a remarkable record of progressive environmental deterioration in northwestern Pangea during the extinction crises.

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