Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Oceanic redox conditions during the terminal Cambrian extinction event

Chen, Xi, Shields, Graham A., Andersen, Morten B. ORCID:, Qiu, Chen, Min, Si-Yu, Shao, Qing-Feng and Ling, Hong-Fei 2023. Oceanic redox conditions during the terminal Cambrian extinction event. Chemical Geology 626 , 121456. 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2023.121456

[thumbnail of 1-s2.0-S0009254123001560-main.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Marine animal diversity during the late Cambrian was reduced by a series of extinctions that have generally been attributed to oceanic anoxic events associated with positive carbon isotope excursions. Here we present carbon and uranium isotope ratios (δ13C and δ238U values) as proxies for global carbon cycle and oceanic redox conditions, respectively, from carbonate rocks of the Wa'ergang section, South China. The dataset spans an interval that includes the last major negative δ13C excursion (TOCE) of the Cambrian Period. The TOCE is a globally documented event, recovery from which corresponds to the terminal Cambrian extinction event. The δ13C and δ238U values covary through the section, shifting initially to lower values, with δ238U falling below the modern open-ocean seawater value from the start to the middle of the profile, followed by a shift to higher values towards the end of the Cambrian. Neither the co-occurrence of δ13C and δ238U negative excursions, nor the association of rising δ238U with extinction have been commonly reported. Here we argue that robust positive coupling of δ13C and δ238U relates to the existence of extensive intermediate reducing settings (from low-O2 suboxia to intermittent anoxia) during the late Cambrian alongside low atmospheric pO2 and a greenhouse climate. Similarly, a stepwise increase in the δ238U baseline in carbonates across the Ediacaran−Cambrian boundary is consistent with the growing importance of an intermediate reducing sink through that interval. We propose further that divergent trends in lower and upper ocean redox conditions could have driven the parallel isotope excursions. An expansion of intermediate reducing conditions, rather than persistent anoxic euxinia, is consistent with the recovery of δ13C and δ238U to higher values, as well as the presence of benthic fauna and shoreward extension of deeper-water fauna that may have had a greater tolerance against hypoxia.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0009-2541
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 April 2023
Date of Acceptance: 29 March 2023
Last Modified: 21 May 2023 01:52

Citation Data

Cited 3 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics