Mercury enrichments and the Frasnian-Famennian biotic crisis: A volcanic trigger proved?

Published on Jun 1, 2018in Geology4.768
· DOI :10.1130/G40233.1
Grzegorz Racki32
Estimated H-index: 32
(University of Silesia in Katowice),
Michał Rakociński14
Estimated H-index: 14
(University of Silesia in Katowice)
+ 1 AuthorsPaul B. Wignall74
Estimated H-index: 74
(University of Leeds)
The Frasnian-Famennian (F-F) global event, one of the five largest biotic crises of the Phanerozoic, has been inconclusively linked to rapid climatic perturbations promoted in turn by volcanic cataclysm, especially in the Viluy large igneous province (LIP) of Siberia. Conversely, the triggers of four other Phanerozoic mass extinction intervals have decisively been linked to LIPs, owing to documented mercury anomalies, shown as the diagnostic proxy. Here, we report multiple Hg enrichments in the two-step late Frasnian (Kellwasser) crisis interval from paleogeographically distant successions in Morocco, Germany, and northern Russia. The distinguishing signal, > 1 ppm Hg in the domain of closing Rheic Ocean, was identified in different lithologies immediately below the F-F boundary and approximately correlated with the onset of the main extinction pulse. This key Hg anomaly, comparable only with an extreme spike known from the end-Ordovician extinction, was not controlled by increased bioproductivity in an anoxic setting. We suggest, therefore, that the global chemostratigraphic pattern near the F-F boundary records a greatly increased worldwide Hg input, controlled by the Center Hill eruptive pulse of the Eovariscan volcanic acme, but likely not manifested exclusively by LIP(s). Consequently, all five major biotic crises of the Phanerozoic have now been more reliably linked to volcanic cataclysms.
Figures & Tables
📖 Papers frequently viewed together
169 Citations
136 Citations
6 Authors (Eric Font, ..., Jahnavi Punekar)
89 Citations
#1Carmen Moreno (University of Huelva)H-Index: 11
#2Felipe González (University of Huelva)H-Index: 6
Last. Isabel Suárez-Ruiz (CSIC: Spanish National Research Council)H-Index: 28
view all 5 authors...
7 CitationsSource
#1David De Vleeschouwer (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)H-Index: 19
#2Anne-Christine Da Silva (UU: Utrecht University)H-Index: 16
Last. Philippe Claeys (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)H-Index: 39
view all 8 authors...
The Late Devonian envelops one of Earth’s big five mass extinction events at the Frasnian–Famennian boundary (374 Ma). Environmental change across the extinction severely affected Devonian reef-builders, besides many other forms of marine life. Yet, cause-and-effect chains leading to the extinction remain poorly constrained as Late Devonian stratigraphy is poorly resolved, compared to younger cataclysmic intervals. In this study we present a global orbitally calibrated chronology across this mom...
31 CitationsSource
#1Dimitri A. Skandalis (UBC: University of British Columbia)H-Index: 7
#2Paolo S. Segre (Stanford University)H-Index: 13
Last. Douglas L. Altshuler (UBC: University of British Columbia)H-Index: 28
view all 10 authors...
Flying animals of different masses vary widely in body proportions, but the functional implications of this variation are often unclear. We address this ambiguity by developing an integrative allometric approach, which we apply here to hummingbirds to examine how the physical environment, wing morphology and stroke kinematics have contributed to the evolution of their highly specialised flight. Surprisingly, hummingbirds maintain constant wing velocity despite an order of magnitude variation in ...
68 CitationsSource
Last. Gérard M. Stampfli (UNIL: University of Lausanne)H-Index: 36
view all 3 authors...
Base metal mining in the Rhenohercynian Zone has a long history. Middle-Upper Devonian to Lower Carboniferous sediment-hosted massive sulfide deposits (SHMS), volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits (VHMS) and Lahn-Dill-type iron, and base metal ores occur at several sites in the Rhenohercynian Zone that stretches from the South Portuguese Zone, through the Lizard area, the Rhenish Massif and the Harz Mountain to the Moravo-Silesian Zone of SW Bohemia. During Devonian to Early Carboniferous tim...
23 CitationsSource
#1Huyue Song (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 22
#2Haijun Song (China University of Geosciences)H-Index: 26
Last. Ariel D. Anbar (ASU: Arizona State University)H-Index: 72
view all 9 authors...
32 CitationsSource
Understanding the causes and timings of mass extinctions are important for our understanding of the evolution of life on Earth and how major biogeochemical cycles have been and can be perturbed. Four of the five biggest mass extinctions (1) are associated with large igneous provinces (LIPS), which are the most voluminous volcanic events on Earth, but whether LIPS triggered the extinctions is disputed due to the difficulty in correlating evidence for the onset and duration of LIPS with mass extin...
26 CitationsSource
#1Lawrence Percival (University of Oxford)H-Index: 9
#2Micha Ruhl (University of Oxford)H-Index: 24
Last. Jessica H. Whiteside (University of Southampton)H-Index: 16
view all 6 authors...
Abstract The Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) has long been proposed as having a causal relationship with the end-Triassic extinction event (∼201.5 Ma). In North America and northern Africa, CAMP is preserved as multiple basaltic units interbedded with uppermost Triassic to lowermost Jurassic sediments. However, it has been unclear whether this apparent pulsing was a local feature, or if pulses in the intensity of CAMP volcanism characterized the emplacement of the province as a whole. ...
86 CitationsSource
#1David P.G. Bond (University of Hull)H-Index: 32
#2Stephen E. Grasby (U of C: University of Calgary)H-Index: 45
The temporal link between large igneous province (LIP) eruptions and at least half of the major extinctions of the Phanerozoic implies that large scale volcanism is the main driver of mass extinction. Here we review almost twenty biotic crises between the early Cambrian and end Cretaceous and explore potential causal mechanisms. Most extinctions are associated with global warming and proximal killers such as marine anoxia (including the Early/Middle Cambrian, the Late Ordovician, the intra-Silur...
169 CitationsSource
#1David S. Jones (Amherst College)H-Index: 16
#2Anna M. Martini (Amherst College)H-Index: 28
Last. Kunio Kaiho (Tohoku University)H-Index: 36
view all 4 authors...
The Late Ordovician mass extinction (LOME), one of the five largest Phanerozoic biodiversity depletions, occurred in two pulses associated with the expansion and contraction of ice sheets on Gondwana during the Hirnantian Age. It is widely recognized that environmental disruptions associated with changing glacial conditions contributed to the extinctions, but neither the kill mechanisms nor the causes of glacial expansion are well understood. Here we report anomalously high Hg concentrations in ...
67 CitationsSource
#1Tomáš WeinerH-Index: 2
#2Jiří KalvodaH-Index: 19
Last. Daniel ŠimíčekH-Index: 7
view all 5 authors...
Rapid and profound changes in Earth surface environments and biota across the Frasnian-Famennian (Fr-Fa) boundary are well known and related to one of the five most severe mass extinction events in Earth history. Here, we present sedimentological, biostratigraphical, petrophysical (gamma-ray spectrometry, magnetic susceptibility) and geochemical (X-ray fluorescence) data from environmentally distinct sections in the Moravian Karst (Czech Republic) and compare them with the Steinbruch Schmidt sec...
12 CitationsSource
Cited By61
Abstract null null The Frasnian–Famennian biotic crisis (~372 Ma) was one of the “big five” mass extinction events in the Phanerozoic. This event was associated with dramatic climatic and oceanographic perturbations, including oceanic anoxia, global cooling, sea-level fluctuations, etc. Large-scale volcanic activity is one of several possible triggers that have been suggested as the ultimate cause of this crisis, based on Hg enrichment data from widespread sections. However, there are also secti...
#1Yixin Cui (PKU: Peking University)H-Index: 1
#2Bing Shen (PKU: Peking University)H-Index: 13
Last. Yongbo Peng (NU: Nanjing University)H-Index: 18
view all 8 authors...
Abstract The Frasnian-Famennian (F-F) mass extinction (~372 Ma) is regarded as one of the ‘Big Five’ mass extinctions events in Phanerozoic. The F-F boundary is characterized by two positive carbonate carbon isotope (δ13Ccarb) excursions, and is coincident with the global deposition of two layers of black shale and bituminous limestone, collectively known as the Lower and Upper Kellwasser events, referring two pulses of oceanic anoxic events that might have triggered the F-F mass extinction. The...
Abstract null null Research on mercury (Hg), a naturally occurring element in Earth’s lithosphere, has been extremely hot in the past few decades due to the outbreak of a series of disastrous poisoning incidents. However, such studies might provide us a biased view towards Hg if no thorough review about its long-term effects on living organisms from a multi-timescale perspective was performed. Hg might have played a mysterious role in critical intervals (e.g., mass extinction and oceanic anoxia ...
#1Grzegorz Racki (University of Silesia in Katowice)H-Index: 32
Abstract Flood basalts (traps) and large igneous provinces (LIPs) are essential topics in modern geology. However, little is known about the stages of recognition of particular LIPs, including a giant continental LIP in Siberia. Even though basalt occurrences were reported from the region from the end of the 18th century (e.g., by Kozitsky, Middendorf, Schmidt and Lopatin), the first ample data were provided by the Polish geologist Aleksander Czekanowski (1833–1876). He was educated at the Unive...
#1Man Lu (UA: University of Alabama)H-Index: 1
#2YueHan Lu (UA: University of Alabama)H-Index: 15
Last. Yongge Sun (ZJU: Zhejiang University)H-Index: 3
view all 8 authors...
Abstract Oceanic anoxia is considered as the immediate cause of the Frasnian–Famennian mass extinction, yet the frequency of anoxia and associated environmental modulators remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that astronomical forcing paced oceanic anoxic episodes by mediating land-ocean interactions during the Upper Kellwasser (UKW) Event, using an ultra-high-resolution (one centimeter spacing), multi-proxy geochemical profile of a UKW interval from the Upper Devonian Chattanooga Shale of Tenn...
#1George R. McGhee (RU: Rutgers University)H-Index: 19
The Late Devonian mass extinction, which occurred 374.5 Ma, is one of the ‘Big Five’ mass extinctions in Earth history. Suggested causes of the mass extinction include oceanic anoxia and global cooling. The severe loss of biodiversity that occurred during the crisis was global, affecting both marine and terrestrial ecosystems and animal and plant communities. Both low-temperature stresses due to global cooling and oxygen deprivation due to anoxia have been implicated as kill mechanisms in the La...
4 CitationsSource
#1Diana L. Boyer (WU: Winthrop University)H-Index: 8
#2Aaron M. Martinez (UCR: University of California, Riverside)H-Index: 3
Last. Mary L. Droser (UCR: University of California, Riverside)H-Index: 35
view all 8 authors...
Abstract The Late Devonian records one of the most dramatic series of taxonomic and ecological turnovers in the history of life. The precise controls over the elevated extinctions and depressed origination rates at this time are not fully resolved, but reduced oxygen conditions undoubtedly played a role. A combined geochemical and paleontological dataset from 17 localities across New York and Ohio provide a cohesive record of prolonged and repeated oxygen stress in the Appalachian Basin associat...
#1Michał Rakociński (University of Silesia in Katowice)H-Index: 14
#2Leszek Marynowski (University of Silesia in Katowice)H-Index: 31
Last. Paweł Filipiak (University of Silesia in Katowice)H-Index: 13
view all 4 authors...
Abstract A wide range of proxies (organic and inorganic geochemistry, gamma-ray spectrometry, microfacies, framboidal pyrite analysis) were applied in order to decipher changes in depositional conditions during the mid-Tournaisian anoxic event, referred to as the Lower Alum Shale Event (LASE) in the Polish part of the Laurussia basin. The LASE part of the section, unlike older Tournaisian deposits, is characterised by high concentrations of isorenieratane, palaeorenieratane, and their diagenetic...
#1Michał Rakociński (University of Silesia in Katowice)H-Index: 14
#2Agnieszka Pisarzowska (University of Silesia in Katowice)H-Index: 10
view all 6 authors...
Recently, the end-Devonian mass extinction (Hangenberg Crisis, 359 Ma) was identified as a first-order mass extinction, albeit not one of the "Big Five" events. Many marine and terrestrial organisms were affected by this crisis. The cause of this mass extinction is still conjectural and widely discussed. Here we report anomalously high mercury (Hg) concentrations from the South Tian Shan (Uzbekistan), together with correlation using conodont biostratigraphic data. Hg enrichment (to 5825 ppb) was...