Paper No. 131-2
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM
THE INTERACTION OF RECOVERY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE OUTER SHELF EDGE OF WESTERN NORTH AMERICA DURING THE EARLY TRIASSIC
Biotic recovery from the Permian-Triassic mass extinction was complex, with prior studies typically revealing a drawn-out recovery that was either delayed or was subdued and stepwise. Examples of rapid recovery at the outcrop scale cloud this narrative and point to the importance of environmental stresses in determining the timing and shape of recovery. The Union Wash Formation at the Darwin locality (east-central CA) contains at least 3 recovery intervals that terminate with the onset of deleterious conditions and therefore offers a means to examine the relationship between environmental stress and recovery. The first recovery is manifested as bioturbated (ii = 5-6), shallow marine micritic limestones that contain small diameter (2-4 mm) Thalassinoides burrows that form complex networks. This interval is overlain by 650.5 m of laminated mudstone that signal deleterious environmental conditions. The second recovery interval begins directly above seafloor precipitate-bearing micritic limestones that make up the lowermost 130 m of the upper member of the Union Wash Formation and is marked by a 3 m-thick interval containing sphinctozoan sponges, an intervening ~1 m-thick laminated (ii = 1) micritic limestone, and an overlying, 5 m-thick bivalve-rich and bioturbated, Chrondrites-bearing calcareous siltstone (ii = 4-5). This interval is overlain by 18 m of laminated green shale (ii = 1) that signifies another incursion of anoxic waters. The third recovery interval is represented by a 30 m-thick unit that includes beds of micritic limestone, fossiliferous limestone (including bivalves, microgastropods, sphinctozoan sponges, microgastropods, flat clams, and terebratulid brachiopods), flat pebble conglomerate and vermicular limestone. Results point to an uneven recovery, in which trace fossils and body fossils vary with respect to their complexity and diversity. This outcome does not, however, signal larger trends, but instead reflects the influence of environmental stresses that were pervasive in deep and shallow marine settings. The most accurate measures of post – extinction recovery, therefore, are those that examine biotic trends over a broad geographic area, and, as a result, incorporate the influence of environmental stress in determining when and how life recovered from the Permian – Triassic mass extinction.