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Science. 2000 Sep 8;289(5485):1740-3.

Altered river morphology in south africa related to the permian-triassic extinction

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  • 1Department of Geological Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. South African Museum, Cape Town, South Africa.


The Permian-Triassic transition in the Karoo Basin of South Africa was characterized by a rapid and apparently basin-wide change from meandering to braided river systems, as evidenced by preserved sedimentary facies. This radical changeover in river morphology is consistent with geomorphic consequences stemming from a rapid and major die-off of rooted plant life in the basin. Evidence from correlative nonmarine strata elsewhere in the world containing fluvial Permian-Triassic boundary sections suggests that a catastrophic terrestrial die-off of vegetation was a global event, producing a marked increase in sediment yield as well as contributing to the global delta(13)C excursion across the Permian-Triassic boundary.

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