Carbon cycle perturbation expressed in terrestrial Permian–Triassic boundary sections in South China

Ying Cui, Antoine Bercovici, Jianxin Yu, Lee R. Kump, Katherine H. Freeman, Shangguo Su, Vivi Vajda

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Abstract

Stable isotopes of inorganic and organic carbon are commonly used in chemostratigraphy to correlate marine and terrestrial sedimentary sequences based on the assumption that the carbon isotopic signature of the exogenic carbon pool dominates other sources of variability. Here, sediment samples from four Permian–Triassic boundary (PTB) sections of western Guizhou and eastern Yunnan provinces in South China, representing a terrestrial to marine transitional setting, were analyzed for δ13C of organic matter (δ13Corg). These values were subsequently compared to published δ13C values of carbonates (δ13Ccarb) from the Global Stratotype Section and Point at Meishan and many other marine and terrestrial sections. A similar isotopic trend evident through all four sections is characterized by a negative shift of 2–3‰ at the top of the Xuanwei Formation, where we tentatively place the PTB. This negative shift also corresponds to a turnover in the vegetation and the occurrence of fungal spores, which is generally interpreted as a proliferation of decomposers and collapse of complex ecosystems during the end-Permian mass extinction event. Moreover, the absolute values of δ13Corg are more extreme in the more distal (marine) deposits. The δ13Corg values for the studied sediments are more variable compared to coeval δ13Ccarb records from marine records especially in the interval below the extinction horizon. We contend that the depositional environment influenced the δ13Corg values, but that the persisting geographic δ13Corg pattern through the extinction event across the four independent sections is an indication that the atmospheric δ13C signal left an indelible imprint on the geologic record related to the profound ecosystem change during the end-Permian extinction event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-285
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume148
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Fingerprint

carbon cycle
perturbation
organic matter
extinction
Permian
chemostratigraphy
marine record
carbonate
stratotype
ecosystem
carbon
inorganic carbon
mass extinction
sedimentary sequence
depositional environment
sediment
spore
turnover
stable isotope
organic carbon

Keywords

  • Carbon isotopes
  • Mass extinction
  • Organic matter
  • Permian–Triassic boundary
  • South China

Cite this

Cui, Ying ; Bercovici, Antoine ; Yu, Jianxin ; Kump, Lee R. ; Freeman, Katherine H. ; Su, Shangguo ; Vajda, Vivi. / Carbon cycle perturbation expressed in terrestrial Permian–Triassic boundary sections in South China. In: Global and Planetary Change. 2017 ; Vol. 148. pp. 272-285.
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abstract = "Stable isotopes of inorganic and organic carbon are commonly used in chemostratigraphy to correlate marine and terrestrial sedimentary sequences based on the assumption that the carbon isotopic signature of the exogenic carbon pool dominates other sources of variability. Here, sediment samples from four Permian–Triassic boundary (PTB) sections of western Guizhou and eastern Yunnan provinces in South China, representing a terrestrial to marine transitional setting, were analyzed for δ13C of organic matter (δ13Corg). These values were subsequently compared to published δ13C values of carbonates (δ13Ccarb) from the Global Stratotype Section and Point at Meishan and many other marine and terrestrial sections. A similar isotopic trend evident through all four sections is characterized by a negative shift of 2–3‰ at the top of the Xuanwei Formation, where we tentatively place the PTB. This negative shift also corresponds to a turnover in the vegetation and the occurrence of fungal spores, which is generally interpreted as a proliferation of decomposers and collapse of complex ecosystems during the end-Permian mass extinction event. Moreover, the absolute values of δ13Corg are more extreme in the more distal (marine) deposits. The δ13Corg values for the studied sediments are more variable compared to coeval δ13Ccarb records from marine records especially in the interval below the extinction horizon. We contend that the depositional environment influenced the δ13Corg values, but that the persisting geographic δ13Corg pattern through the extinction event across the four independent sections is an indication that the atmospheric δ13C signal left an indelible imprint on the geologic record related to the profound ecosystem change during the end-Permian extinction event.",
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Carbon cycle perturbation expressed in terrestrial Permian–Triassic boundary sections in South China. / Cui, Ying; Bercovici, Antoine; Yu, Jianxin; Kump, Lee R.; Freeman, Katherine H.; Su, Shangguo; Vajda, Vivi.

In: Global and Planetary Change, Vol. 148, 01.01.2017, p. 272-285.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AB - Stable isotopes of inorganic and organic carbon are commonly used in chemostratigraphy to correlate marine and terrestrial sedimentary sequences based on the assumption that the carbon isotopic signature of the exogenic carbon pool dominates other sources of variability. Here, sediment samples from four Permian–Triassic boundary (PTB) sections of western Guizhou and eastern Yunnan provinces in South China, representing a terrestrial to marine transitional setting, were analyzed for δ13C of organic matter (δ13Corg). These values were subsequently compared to published δ13C values of carbonates (δ13Ccarb) from the Global Stratotype Section and Point at Meishan and many other marine and terrestrial sections. A similar isotopic trend evident through all four sections is characterized by a negative shift of 2–3‰ at the top of the Xuanwei Formation, where we tentatively place the PTB. This negative shift also corresponds to a turnover in the vegetation and the occurrence of fungal spores, which is generally interpreted as a proliferation of decomposers and collapse of complex ecosystems during the end-Permian mass extinction event. Moreover, the absolute values of δ13Corg are more extreme in the more distal (marine) deposits. The δ13Corg values for the studied sediments are more variable compared to coeval δ13Ccarb records from marine records especially in the interval below the extinction horizon. We contend that the depositional environment influenced the δ13Corg values, but that the persisting geographic δ13Corg pattern through the extinction event across the four independent sections is an indication that the atmospheric δ13C signal left an indelible imprint on the geologic record related to the profound ecosystem change during the end-Permian extinction event.

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