Redox chemistry changes in the Panthalassic Ocean linked to the end-Permian mass extinction and delayed Early Triassic biotic recovery.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 02 21; 114(8):1806-1810.PN
The end-Permian mass extinction represents the most severe biotic crisis for the last 540 million years, and the marine ecosystem recovery from this extinction was protracted, spanning the entirety of the Early Triassic and possibly longer. Numerous studies from the low-latitude Paleotethys and high-latitude Boreal oceans have examined the possible link between ocean chemistry changes and the end-Permian mass extinction. However, redox chemistry changes in the Panthalassic Ocean, comprising ∼85-90% of the global ocean area, remain under debate. Here, we report multiple S-isotopic data of pyrite from Upper Permian-Lower Triassic deep-sea sediments of the Panthalassic Ocean, now present in outcrops of western Canada and Japan. We find a sulfur isotope signal of negative Δ33S with either positive δ34S or negative δ34S that implies mixing of sulfide sulfur with different δ34S before, during, and after the end-Permian mass extinction. The precise coincidence of the negative Δ33S anomaly with the extinction horizon in western Canada suggests that shoaling of H2S-rich waters may have driven the end-Permian mass extinction. Our data also imply episodic euxinia and oscillations between sulfidic and oxic conditions during the earliest Triassic, providing evidence of a causal link between incursion of sulfidic waters and the delayed recovery of the marine ecosystem.