In terrestrial settings, the Permo-Triassic mass extinction is commonly linked to major changes in sedimentological and climatic conditions that include a switch from meandering to braided fluvial systems and increased aridity. We examined the predominantly terrestrial strata of North China to reveal that, on the contrary, there was little substantial sedimentological change during the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. The crisis level occurs in the upper Sunjiagou Formation, where a range of environments, including low-sinuosity rivers, distally terminating alluvial fans, and mud-dominated coastal plains are recorded. A major sedimentological change occurred slightly higher, within the lowest Triassic, and involved a switch to braided fluvial and shallow lacustrine/fluviodeltaic conditions of the Liujiagou Formation. Later in the Early Triassic, fine-grained, playa lake, and alluvial plain facies became widespread (Heshanggou Formation). Paleosols are present throughout the basin fill and record a transition from Aridisols and Vertisols in the Late Permian to Inceptisols in the Early Triassic followed by gleyed Aridisols, Vertisols, and Inceptisols later in the Early Triassic. Previously reported aeolian facies from Lower Triassic strata were not encountered in this study and were unlikely to have occurred given the prevalence of lacustrine and fluvial conditions at this time. Overall, the North China Basin experienced an increase in seasonal rainfall in the latest Permian and a base-level rise that introduced marine conditions into the southwest of the basin. During the Early Triassic, seasonal or interannual rainfall was frequent, with strong evaporation in a hot climate. Overall, substantial sedimentological changes occurred in the terrestrial Permo-Triassic environments of North China, but despite earlier claims from studies in North China and elsewhere, there was no abrupt transition in fluvial styles around the Permo-Triassic mass extinction.
Sedimentology of the latest Permian to Early Triassic in the terrestrial settings of the North China Basin: Low-latitude climate change during a warming-driven crisis
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Kaixuan Ji, Paul B. Wignall, Jinnan Tong, Yingyue Yu, Wenwei Guo, Wenchao Shu, Daoliang Chu; Sedimentology of the latest Permian to Early Triassic in the terrestrial settings of the North China Basin: Low-latitude climate change during a warming-driven crisis. GSA Bulletin 2022; doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B36260.1
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