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Mass extinction and recovery of the Early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) brachiopods linked to climate change in Northern and Central Spain



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García Joral, Fernando and Gómez Fernández, Juan José and Goy, Antonio (2011) Mass extinction and recovery of the Early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) brachiopods linked to climate change in Northern and Central Spain. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 302 . pp. 367-380. ISSN 0031-0182

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Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/palaeogeography-palaeoclimatology-palaeoecology


The Early Toarcian mass extinction event represented the most important Mesozoic and Cenozoic turnover of the population of brachiopods and severely affected other benthic fauna. Two main hypotheses have been proposed to explain the synchronous and global mass extinction: an oceanic anoxic event or awarming episode. To test both hypotheses, the dynamics of the brachiopod assemblages below and above the extinction boundary are analyzed and compared with the seawater paleotemperature variations, calculated from the δ18O data recorded in belemnite rostra. Five sections from Northern and Central Spain, well dated with ammonites, have been selected for this study. The sections show no indication of sedimentary breaks and contain abundant brachiopods, which have been grouped into four assemblages. The changes observed in the brachiopod assemblages show a close correlation with the changes in the seawater paleotemperatures. The oldest assemblage (assemblage 1) coincides with a cooling interval recorded to have taken place in the latest Pliensbachian. Paleobiogeographical reconstruction shows that this assemblage was distributed at paleolatitudes between 30 and 45°N, with a preference for relatively cool waters. With the rise of temperatures that took place during the earliest Toarcian Tenuicostatum Zone, assemblage 1 was substituted by assemblage 2, which composed of different species of the same genera but considerably restricted to the warmer waters of lower paleolatitudes, between 28 and 35°N. Coinciding with the rapid and pronounced increase in seawater temperature, recorded at the Tenuicostatum–Serpentinum zonal boundary, all of these brachiopod species disappeared in the studied localities, marking clearly the extinction boundary. Predominant southward currents through the Laurasian Seaway precluded the possible migration of the brachiopods to cooler northern waters. The brachiopods' disappearance is independent from the oxygenation degree of the sea bottom, and therefore the rapid warming seems to be the most plausible cause of the mass extinction. After the extinction event, the recovery of the brachiopodswas uneven. Subsequent to a brief pause, recoverywas rapid in Central Spain and in other southern areas of Western Tethys, whereas in northern Spain and in the whole of Europe north of the French Central Massif, brachiopods did not recover until the Mid to Late Toarcian times.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Brachiopods; Mass extinction; Paleoclimate; Stable isotopes; Early Toarcian
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Paleontology
ID Code:58916
Deposited On:13 Feb 2020 07:50
Last Modified:13 Feb 2020 09:58

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