Synchrony between Early Jurassic extinction, oceanic anoxic event, and the Karoo-Ferrar flood basalt volcanism

J. Pálfy, P. L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

221 Citations (Scopus)


A well-known second-order mass extinction took place during the Pliensbachian and Toarcian Stages of the Early Jurassic. First recognized as a minor Pliensbachian peak in the global extinction rate, it has alternatively been interpreted as a regional response to the early Toarcian oceanic anoxic event. Detailed studies established it as a global long-term event spanning five successive ammonoid zones. Here we present a revised time scale based on high-precision U-Pb ages resolved to the zone level, which suggests that elevated extinction rates were sustained for about 4 m.y. and peak extinction occurred at 183 Ma. Recent isotopic dating of flood basalts from the southern Gondwanan Karoo and Ferrar provinces documents a culmination in volcanic activity ca. 183 Ma. The onset of volcanism is recorded as an inflection and start of a rapid rise of the seawater 87Sr/86Sr curve. The synchrony of voluminous flood basalt eruptions and biotic crises, as already noted for three of the major mass extinctions, permits a causal relationship, which in this case may be mediated by widespread oceanic anoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-750
Number of pages4
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Extinction
  • Flood basalt
  • Oceanic anoxic event
  • Time scale
  • Toarcian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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