The cause-and-effect relationship between the c. 201 Ma eruption of the Central Atlantic magmatic province (CAMP) and the end-Triassic abrupt climate change and mass extinction is at present based on controversial temporal correlations. Upper Triassic sedimentary strata underlying CAMP basalts in Morocco illustrate a clear mineralogical and geochemical fingerprint of early CAMP basaltic eruptions, namely unusually high contents of MgO (10–32 wt%) and of mafic clay minerals (11–84%). In the same rocks a coincident negative carbon-isotope excursion (CIE) is present, equivalent to the so-called ‘initial negative CIE’ recorded worldwide shortly before the Triassic–Jurassic boundary. The new data show that the onset of CAMP activity preceded the end-Triassic carbon cycle disruption and that the initial negative CIE is unequivocally synchronous with CAMP volcanism. The results of this study strongly support the hypothesis that the culmination of pollution of atmosphere and seawater by CAMP-derived volcanic gases was the proximate cause of the end-Triassic mass extinction.
The stratigraphic position of analysed samples, and the C-isotope, bulk-rock mineralogy, element analysis, Mg–Al–Si ternary diagram and trace-element analysis data are available at www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18707.