Abstract

The Carnian Humid Episode is an interval of prominent climatic changes in the Late Triassic. We studied the carbon isotope (δ13C) geochemistry of carbonates from sections in southwestern China and northern Oman. δ13C records from the Yongyue section (western Guizhou, South China) show a progressive positive shift from 1.4 to 2.8‰ in the early to middle Julian 1 substage. This positive trend is followed by a swift negative shift of c. 4.2‰ from 2.8 to −1.4‰ in the Julian 2 substage. δ13C from the Wadi Mayhah section (northern Oman) shows a positive shift from 2.2 to 2.8‰ in the Julian 1 substage, followed by a negative shift of c. 3.2‰ from 2.8 to −0.3‰ in the Julian 2 substage. The δ13C records from the two study sections generally correlate well with each other as well as with published records, pointing to a considerable input of isotopically light carbon starting in the late Julian 1 substage. Such a large amount of light carbon probably derived from direct degassing and the sediment–sill contact metamorphism of the Panthalassan Wrangellia Large Igneous Province and contemporary Tethyan volcanism. The voluminous volcanogenic greenhouse gases probably contributed to the warming pulse in the middle Carnian. Thus the dry–wet climatic transition during the Carnian Humid Episode is best interpreted as a warm climate-driven intensification of the activities of the atmospheric circulation and hydrological cycle.

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