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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 / End-Permian marine extinction due to temperature-driven nutrient recycling and euxinia

Dominik Hülse, Kimberly V Lau, Sebastiaan J van de Velde, Sandra Arndt, Katja M Meyer, and Andy Ridgwell (2021)

End-Permian marine extinction due to temperature-driven nutrient recycling and euxinia

Nature Geoscience, 14:862–867.

Extreme warming at the end-Permian induced profound changes in marine biogeochemical cycling and animal habitability, leading to the largest metazoan extinction in Earth’s history. However, a causal mechanism for the extinction that is consistent with various proxy records of geochemical conditions through the interval has yet to be determined. Here we combine an Earth system model with global and local redox interpretations from the Permian/Triassic in an attempt to identify this causal mechanism. Our results show that a temperature-driven increase in microbial respiration can reconcile reconstructions of the spatial distribution of euxinia and seafloor anoxia spanning the Permian–Triassic transition. We illustrate how enhanced metabolic rates would have strengthened upper-ocean nutrient (phosphate) recycling, and thus shoaled and intensified the oxygen minimum zones, eventually causing euxinic waters to expand onto continental shelves and poison benthic habitats. Taken together, our findings demonstrate the sensitive interconnections between temperature, microbial metabolism, ocean redox state and carbon cycling during the end-Permian mass extinction. As enhanced microbial activity in the ocean interior also lowers subsurface dissolved inorganic carbon isotopic values, the carbon release as inferred from isotope changes in shallow subsurface carbonates is likely overestimated, not only for this event, but perhaps for many other carbon cycle and climate perturbations through Earth’s history.
Peer Review, Impact Factor
  • DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00829-7

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