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A tale of two extinctions: converging end-Permian and end-Triassic scenarios

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2015

Marine Palynology & Paleoceanography, Institute of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS, The Netherlands
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Author for correspondence:


The end-Permian (c. 252 Ma) and end-Triassic (c. 201 Ma) mass-extinction events are commonly linked to the emplacement of the large igneous provinces of the Siberia Traps and Central Atlantic Magmatic Province, respectively. Accordingly, scenarios for both extinctions are increasingly convergent and cross-fertilization of ideas has become important. Here, we present a synthesis of extinction scenarios based on a critical assessment of the available palaeontological, sedimentological, geochemical and geophysical evidence. How similar were the extinction events, what gaps exist in our understanding and how can a comparison of the events enhance our understanding of each event individually? Our focus is on the most important proximate kill mechanisms including: climate change and atmospheric pollution; increased soil erosion, weathering and runoff; forest dieback and the spread of pathogens; and ocean temperature changes, anoxia and acidification. There is substantial evidence to suggest that very similar kill mechanisms acted upon late Permian as well as Late Triassic ecosystems, strengthening the hypothesis that the ultimate causes of the mass-extinction events were similar.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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