The Choiyoi magmatism in south western Gondwana: implications for the end-permian mass extinction - a review
The end of the Permian period is marked by global warming and the biggest known mass extinction on Earth. The crisis is commonly attributed to the formation of large igneous provinces because continental volcanic emissions have the potential to control atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and climate change. We propose that in southwestern Gondwana the long-term hothouse Permian environmental conditions were associated with the development of the Choiyoi magmatism. This large igneous
... rge igneous province was developed between the Cisuralian and the early Triassic. It covers an area estimated at 1,680,000 km2 with an average thickness of 700 m, so that the volume of effusive and consanguineous rocks is estimated at 1,260,000 km3. Towards the western sector of the study region, a major overlap exists between the regional development of the Choiyoi magmatism and the Carboniferous sedimentary basins, which include paralic and continental deposits with intercalations of peat and coal beds. Commonly, these upper Palaeozoic deposits accumulated on a thick substrate composed of Cambro-Ordovician carbonates and Ordovician to Devonian terrigenous sedimentary rocks characterised by a large proportion of dark organic-rich shales and turbidite successions. While extensive volcanism released large masses of carbon dioxide into the Permian atmosphere, the heating of Palaeozoic organic-rich shales, peat and carbonates by ascending magma led to CO2 and CH4 gas generation in sufficient volumes to amplify the major climatic change. The analysis of the almost continuous record of Permian redbeds in the Paganzo basin, where the Choiyoi magmatism is not recorded, allowed us to recognize two main pulses of strong environmental desiccation, one at the Cisuralian and the second around the end-Permian. These two drastic climatic crisis are attributed to peaks of CO2 and CH4 outbursts to the atmosphere and related collateral effects, such as acid rain, impoverishment of soils and increase in forest-fire frequency. We propose that the combination of these multiple mechanisms triggered the decline of biodiversity in southwestern Gondwana and caused the end-Permian extinction of most of the Glossopteridales.