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Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 27;6:19808. doi: 10.1038/srep19808.

A microbial carbonate response in synchrony with the end-Triassic mass extinction across the SW UK.

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University of Southern California, Department of Earth Sciences, 3651 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, California 90089 USA.
Stanford University, Department of Earth System Science, 450 Serra Mall, Bldg 320, Stanford, CA 94305 USA.
School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SS, UK.


The eruption of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP)-the largest igneous province known-has been linked to the end-Triassic mass extinction event, however reconciling the response of the biosphere (at local and nonlocal scales) to potential CAMP-induced geochemical excursions has remained challenging. Here we present a combined sedimentary and biological response to an ecosystem collapse in Triassic-Jurassic strata of the southwest United Kingdom (SW UK) expressed as widely distributed carbonate microbialites and associated biogeochemical facies. The microbialites (1) occur at the same stratigraphic level as the mass extinction extinction, (2) host a negative isotope excursion in δ(13)Corg found in other successions around the world, and (3) co-occur with an acme of prasinophyte algae 'disaster taxa' also dominant in Triassic-Jurassic boundary strata of other European sections. Although the duration of microbialite deposition is uncertain, it is likely that they formed rapidly (perhaps fewer than ten thousand years), thus providing a high-resolution glimpse into the initial carbon isotopic perturbation coincident with the end-Triassic mass extinction. These findings indicate microbialites from the SW UK capture a nonlocal biosedimentary response to the cascading effects of massive volcanism and add to the current understanding of paleoecology in the aftermath of the end-Triassic extinction.

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