The Bogda Mountains, Xianjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, western China, expose an uppermost Permian–Lower Triassic succession of fully continental strata deposited across three graben (half graben) structures in the mid-paleolatitudes of Pangea. A cyclostratigraphy scheme developed for the succession is subdivided into three low-order cycles (Wutonggou, Jiucaiyuan, Shaofanggou). Low-order cycles are partitioned into 1838 high-order cycles based on repetitive environmental changes, and their plant taphonomic character is assessed in > 4700 m of high-resolution, measured sections distributed across ∼ 100 km. Four taphonomic assemblages are represented by: permineralized wood (both autochthonous and allochthonous), megafloral adpressions (?parautochthonous and allochthonous) identifiable to systematic affinity, unidentifiable (allochthonous) phytoclasts concentrated or disseminated on bedding, and (autochthonous) rooting structures of various configurations (carbon films to rhizoconcretions). Their temporal and spatial occurrences vary across the study area and are dependent on the array of depositional environments exposed in any particular locality.

Similar to paleobotanical results in other fully continental basins, megafloral elements are rarely encountered. Both wood (erect permineralized stumps and prostrate logs) and adpressions are found in < 2% of meandering river and limnic cycles, where sediment accumulated under semi-arid to humid conditions. The absence of such assemblages in river-and-lake deposits is more likely related to physical or geographical factors than it is to an absence of organic-matter contribution. With such a low frequency, no predictable pattern or trend to their occurrence can be determined. This is also true for any horizon in which rooting structures are preserved, although paleosols occur in all or parts of high-order cycles developed under arid to humid conditions. Physical rooting structures are encountered in only 23% of these and are not preserved equally across space and time. Allochthonous phytoclasts are the most common taphonomic assemblage, preserved in association with micaceous minerals on bedding in fine-grained lithofacies. The consistency of phytoclast assemblages throughout the succession is empirical evidence for the presence of riparian vegetation during a time when models propose the catastrophic demise of land plants, and does not support an interpretation of vegetational demise followed by long-term recovery across the crisis interval in this basin. These mesofossil and microfossil (palynological) assemblages offer the best opportunity to understand the effects of the crisis on the base of terrestrial ecosystems.

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