Evidence for a diachronous Late Permian marine crisis from the Canadian Arctic region

Thomas Algeo, Charles M. Henderson, Brooks Ellwood, Harry Rowe, Erika Elswick, Steven Bates, Timothy Lyons, James C. Hower, Christina Smith, Barry Maynard, Lindsay E. Hays, Roger E. Summons, James Fulton, Katherine H. Freeman

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89 Scopus citations


A high-resolution chemostratigraphic study of a 24-m-thick section at West Blind Fiord on Ellesmere Island (Canadian Arctic) documents stepwise environmental deterioration in the marine Sverdrup Basin during the late Changhsingian (late Late Permian) as a result of volcanic disturbances to surrounding landmasses. A horizon within the upper Lindström Formation (datum A) is characterized by increased Fe-oxyhydroxide fluxes and weathering intensity as well as modest shifts toward more reducing watermass conditions and higher marine productivity, recording an initial disturbance that washed soils into the marine environment. The contact between chert of the Lindström Formation and silty shale of the overlying Blind Fiord Formation, which is 1.6 m higher and ~50 k.y. younger than datum A, records a large increase in detrital sediment flux, more strongly enhanced marine productivity, and a regional extinction of siliceous sponges, herein termed the "Arctic extinction event." The horizon equivalent to the latest Permian mass extinction of Tethyan shallow-marine sections is 5.6 m higher and ~100 k.y. younger than the Arctic extinction event, demonstrating the diachronous nature of the marine biotic and environmental crisis at a global scale; it is associated with intensified anoxia and possible changes in phytoplankton community composition in the study section. Marine environmental deterioration in the Sverdrup Basin, probably triggered by terrestrial ecosystem deterioration and elevated detrital sediment fluxes, was under way by the early part of the late Changhsingian, well before the onset of main-stage Siberian Traps flood basalt volcanism. The event sequence at West Blind Fiord may record the deleterious effects of early-stage explosive silicic eruptions that affected the Boreal region, possibly through deposition of toxic gas and ash within a restricted latitudinal band, while having little impact on marine ecosystems in the peri-equatorial Tethyan region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1424-1448
Number of pages25
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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