ABSTRACT

The fully continental succession of the Beaufort Group, Karoo Basin, South Africa, has been used in the development of environmental models proposed for the interval that spans the contact between the Daptocephalus to Lystrosaurus Assemblage Zones, associated by some workers with the end-Permian extinction event. An aridification trend is widely accepted, yet geochemical data indicate that the majority of in situ paleosols encountered in this interval developed in waterlogged environments. To date, the presence of calcic paleosols in the latest Permian can be inferred only from the presence of calcite-cemented pedogenic nodules concentrated in fluvial channel-lag deposits. Here, we report on the first empirical evidence of in situ calcic Vertisols found in the upper Daptocephalus Assemblage Zone near Old Wapadsberg Pass, one of eight classic localities in which the vertebrate turnover is reported in the Karoo Basin. Seven discrete intervals of calcic Vertisols, exposed over a very limited lateral extent, occur in an ∼ 25 m stratigraphic interval. Estimates of mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation are calculated from geochemical measurements of one paleosol, and these estimates indicate that the prevailing climate at the time of pedogenesis was seasonally cold and humid. Correlation with adjacent stratigraphic sections indicates that the late Permian landscape experienced poorly drained and better-drained phases, interpreted to reflect a climate that varied between episodically dry and episodically wet. In contrast to a paleoenvironmental reconstruction of unidirectional aridification from strata in the Wapadsberg Pass region, this study provides new evidence for a wetting trend towards the Daptocephalus–Lystrosaurus Assemblage-Zone boundary.

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