The end-Permian mass extinction was accompanied by a dramatic negative shift in carbon isotope ratios of marine carbonates. Organic geochemical analysis of sedimentary organic matter from a marine Permian-Triassic transition sequence in the Southern Alps, Italy (see figure), reveal that an influx of land-derived diagenetic products of polysaccharides directly precedes the isotope shift. This unique organic geochemical event reflects massive volcanism with emissions that polluted terrestrial ecosystems leading to widespread and catastrophic soil erosion on the supercontinent Pangea. The introduction of soil materials to the oceans would have also destabilized marine ecosystems by reducing water clarity and generating anoxia following organic decomposition thereby completing the global catastrophe.
Sephton M.A., Looy C.V., Brinkhuis H., Wignall, P.W., De Leeuw J.W., and Visscher, H., 2005. Catastrophic soil erosion during the end-Permian biotic crisis. Geology 33: 941-944.
Sephton M.A., Looy C.V., Veefkind R.J., Visscher H., Brinkhuis H. and De Leeuw J.W., 1999. Cyclic diaryl ethers in a Late Permian sediment. Organic Geochemistry 30: 267-273.
Sephton M.A., Veefkind R.J., Looy C.V., Visscher H., Brinkhuis H. and De Leeuw J.W., 2001. Lateral variations in End-Permian organic matter in Northern Italy. In: Buffetaut E and Koeberl C (Eds). Geological and Biological Effects of Impact Events. Springer Verlag, Berlin: 11-24.
Sephton M.A., Looy C.V., Visscher H., Brinkhuis H. and De Leeuw J.W., 2005. The combined petrographic and geochemical analysis of end Permian kerogens. In: Koeberl, C. and Henkel, H. (Eds.) Impact Tectonics, Springer, New York, pp. 467-478.
Watson, J.S., Sephton, M.A., Looy C.V., and Gilmour, I., 2005. Oxygen-containing aromatic components in a Late Permian sediment. Organic Geochemistry 36: 371-384.