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  1. Abstract

    Harmful algal and bacterial blooms linked to deforestation, soil loss and global warming are increasingly frequent in lakes and rivers. We demonstrate that climate changes and deforestation can drive recurrent microbial blooms, inhibiting the recovery of freshwater ecosystems for hundreds of millennia. From the stratigraphic successions of the Sydney Basin, Australia, our fossil, sedimentary and geochemical data reveal bloom events following forest ecosystem collapse during the most severe mass extinction in Earth’s history, the end-Permian event (EPE; c. 252.2 Ma). Microbial communities proliferated in lowland fresh and brackish waterbodies, with algal concentrations typical of modern blooms. These initiated before any trace of post-extinction recovery vegetation but recurred episodically for >100 kyrs. During the following 3 Myrs, algae and bacteria thrived within short-lived, poorly-oxygenated, and likely toxic lakes and rivers. Comparisons to global deep-time records indicate that microbial blooms are persistent freshwater ecological stressors during warming-driven extinction events.

  2. The newly defined Frazer Beach Member of the Moon Island Beach Formation is identified widely across the Sydney Basin in both outcrop and exploration wells. This thin unit was deposited immediately after extinction of the Glossopteris flora (defining the terrestrial end-Permian extinction event). The unit rests conformably on the uppermost Permian coal seam in most places. A distinctive granule-microbreccia bed is locally represented at the base of the member. The unit otherwise consists of dark gray to black siltstone, shale, mudstone and, locally, thin lenses of fine-grained sandstone and tuff. The member represents the topmost unit of the Newcastle Coal Measures and is overlain gradationally by the Dooralong Shale or with a scoured (disconformable) contact by coarse-grained sandstones to conglomerates of the Coal Cliff Sandstone, Munmorah Conglomerate and laterally equivalent units. The member is characterized by a palynological “dead zone” represented by a high proportion of degraded wood fragments, charcoal, amorphous organic matter and fungal spores. Abundant freshwater algal remains and the initial stages of a terrestrial vascular plant recovery flora are represented by low-diversity spore-pollen suites in the upper part of the unit in some areas. These assemblages are referable to the Playfordiaspora crenulata Palynozone interpreted as latest Permianmore »in age on the basis of high precision Chemical Abrasion Isotope Dilution Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (CA-IDTIMS) dating of thin volcanic ash beds within and stratigraphically bracketing the unit. Plant macrofossils recovered from the upper Frazer Beach Member and immediately succeeding strata are dominated by Lepidopteris (Peltaspermaceae) and Voltziopsis (Voltziales) with subsidiary pleuromeian lycopsids, sphenophytes, and ferns. Sparse vertebrate and invertebrate ichnofossils are also represented in the Frazer Beach Member or in beds immediately overlying this unit. The Frazer Beach Member is correlative, in part, with a thin interval of organic-rich mudrocks, commonly known as the “marker mudstone” capping the Permian succession further to the north in the Bowen, Galilee and Cooper basins. The broad geographic distribution of this generally <5-m-thick mudrock unit highlights the development in eastern Gondwana of extensive, short-lived, shallow lacustrine systems with impoverished biotas in alluvial plain settings in the immediate aftermath of the end-Permian biotic crisis.« less
  3. ABSTRACT A distinctive burrow form, Reniformichnus australis n. isp., is described from strata immediately overlying and transecting the end-Permian extinction (EPE) horizon in the Sydney Basin, eastern Australia. Although a unique excavator cannot be identified, these burrows were probably produced by small cynodonts based on comparisons with burrows elsewhere that contain body fossils of the tracemakers. The primary host strata are devoid of plant remains apart from wood and charcoal fragments, sparse fungal spores, and rare invertebrate traces indicative of a very simplified terrestrial ecosystem characterizing a ‘dead zone' in the aftermath of the EPE. The high-paleolatitude (∼ 65–75°S) setting of the Sydney Basin, together with its higher paleoprecipitation levels and less favorable preservational potential, is reflected by a lower diversity of vertebrate fossil burrows and body fossils compared with coeval continental interior deposits of the mid-paleolatitude Karoo Basin, South Africa. Nevertheless, these burrows reveal the survivorship of small tetrapods in considerable numbers in the Sydney Basin immediately following the EPE. A fossorial lifestyle appears to have provided a selective advantage for tetrapods enduring the harsh environmental conditions that arose during the EPE. Moreover, high-paleolatitude and maritime settings may have provided important refugia for terrestrial vertebrates at a time ofmore »lethal temperatures at low-latitudes and aridification of continental interiors.« less
  4. Ghinassi, Massimiliano (Ed.)
  5. Peppe, Daniel (Ed.)
  6. The collapse of late Permian (Lopingian) Gondwanan floras, characterized by the extinction of glossopterid gymnosperms, heralded the end of one of the most enduring and extensive biomes in Earth’s history. The Sydney Basin, Australia, hosts a near-continuous, age-constrained succession of high southern paleolatitude (∼65−75°S) terrestrial strata spanning the end-Permian extinction (EPE) interval. Sedimentological, stable carbon isotopic, palynological, and macrofloral data were collected from two cored coal-exploration wells and correlated. Six palynostratigraphic zones, supported by ordination analyses, were identified within the uppermost Permian to Lower Triassic succession, corresponding to discrete vegetation stages before, during, and after the EPE interval. Collapse of the glossopterid biome marked the onset of the terrestrial EPE and may have significantly predated the marine mass extinctions and conodont-defined Permian−Triassic Boundary. Apart from extinction of the dominant Permian plant taxa, the EPE was characterized by a reduction in primary productivity, and the immediate aftermath was marked by high abundances of opportunistic fungi, algae, and ferns. This transition is coeval with the onset of a gradual global decrease in δ13Corg and the primary extrusive phase of Siberian Traps Large Igneous Province magmatism. The dominant gymnosperm groups of the Gondwanan Mesozoic (peltasperms, conifers, and corystosperms) all appeared soon after themore »collapse but remained rare throughout the immediate post-EPE succession. Faltering recovery was due to a succession of rapid and severe climatic stressors until at least the late Early Triassic. Immediately prior to the Smithian−Spathian boundary (ca. 249 Ma), indices of increased weathering, thick redbeds, and abundant pleuromeian lycophytes likely signify marked climate change and intensification of the Gondwanan monsoon climate system. This is the first record of the Smithian−Spathian floral overturn event in high southern latitudes.« less