“Deadly Trio of Carbon Dioxide” leaves a selective extinction record at the Permo-Triassic crisis

Earth Surface Science Institute seminar. Speaker William Foster, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin.



One of the most important events in the evolution of life was its survival and recovery from the Permo-Triassic crisis, the most catastrophic extinction event in Earth’s history. The extinctions in the oceans are widely cited as having been caused by a combination of ocean acidification, high sea surface temperatures, and deoxygenation (the deadly trio of CO2) as a result of massive volcanism. Many questions about how these factors caused the mass extinction event, however, remain unanswered, e.g., proxies for ocean acidification and rising temperatures occurred after the mass extinction, so did they really have a role in this event? Does deoxygenation explain the extinctions in shallow environments? Multiple environmental changes are occurring at the same time, so can we discern which factors were significant or redundant in the extinctions? To understand which factors best explain the extinctions, here we will explore quantitative changes in the palaeobiology of benthic marine ecosystems to answer these questions.