Large environmental disturbances caused by magmatic activity during the Late Devonian Hangenberg Crisis
Abstract A wide range of various proxies (e.g., mineralogy, organic carbon, inorganic geochemistry, C and Mo isotopes, and framboidal pyrite) were applied for interpretation of changing oceanic redox conditions, bioproductivity, and the regional history of volcanic activity. This resulted in internally consistent interpretation of the late Famennian Hangenberg Crisis in subtropical deepest water sites of the epeiric Rhenohercynian and Saxo–Thuringian basins, as well as more open sites of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. High mercury concentrations were detected in all of the studied sections, with the highest values strata in the Carnic Alps (up to 20 ppm) and Thuringia (up to 1.5 ppm). The beginning of the Hg anomaly and the presence of pyroclastic material, indicate that local magmatic activity was initiated before the deposition of the Hangenberg Black Shale (HBS). The onset of the HBS deposition coincided with the expansion of phosphate-enriched, anoxic to euxinic waters during short-lived CO2-greenhouse spike of a warm–humid climate. Intensive magmatic activity was a trigger for climatic changes, an excessive eutrophication, and an accelerated burial of organic carbon during the Hangenberg transgressive pulse. The injection of catastrophic amounts of CO2, toxic elements and acids from volcanic activity could have led to acidification, mutation of spores, and episodes of mass mortality of marine plankton.