Biostratigraphic correlation and mass extinction during the Permian-Triassic transition in terrestrial-marine siliciclastic settings of South China
Abstract The Permian-Triassic boundary marks the greatest mass extinction during the Phanerozoic, which was coupled with major global environmental changes, and is known especially from well-preserved marine fossil records and continuous carbonate deposits. However, the placement of the Permian-Triassic boundary in terrestrial sections and accurate correlation with the marine strata are difficult due to the absence of the key marine index fossils in terrestrial-marine siliciclastic settings. Here, we present detailed fossil data from four terrestrial sections, two paralic sections and one shallow marine section in South China. Our data show that the rapid mass disappearance of the Gigantopteris flora in various sections represents the end-Permian mass extinction and the base of the Permian-Triassic transitional beds in terrestrial-marine siliciclastic settings of South China. In particular, we find a mixed marine and terrestrial biota from the coastal transitional sections of the Permian-Triassic transitional Kayitou Formation, which provides a unique intermediate link for biostratigraphic correlation between terrestrial and marine sequences. Accordingly, the Euestheria gutta -bearing conchostracan fauna and the Pteria ussurica variabilis - Towapteria scythica - Eumorphotis venetiana bivalve assemblage are proposed as markers of the Permian-Triassic transitional beds in terrestrial-marine siliciclastic settings of South China.