The Permian-Triassic mass extinction is the largest biocrisis of Earth life during the Phanerozoic history (Erwin, 1994). This topic has attracted many generations of geo-scientists to work on since 1970s (Nakazawa et al., 1975). To investigate the biotic extinction patterns, causes, and its global signals of this biocrisis, many large international collaborative researches have been undertaken to focus on this topic since 1970s. Of these, the International Geoscience Program (formerly International Geological Correlation Program, IGCP) projects are one of the most successful international collaborations working on the P-Tr mass extinction and recovery. In particular, the recent two IGCP projects, namely IGCP 572 and 630, have organized many workshops at most of the well-known PTB and Lower Triassic sites around the world. These field workshops have resulted in fruitful results and are greatly beneficious to the better understanding of the PTB extinction and recovery at a local and global scale. Of these, the Kashmir, southern Turkey, Oman, and southern Armenia regions record continuous form uppermost Permian to Middle Triassic successions and thus are important for the P-Tr studies.
The Permian-Triassic transition in South Turkey was the subject of a 1986 field workshop 'Late Permian and Triassic in western Turkey' following the international Triassic Conference in Brescia (Italy) and the basal Triassic stromatolites of the Çürük Dağ Section were first described by Marcoux and Baud (1986), followed by more detailed description on the basal Triassic microbialites of the Middle-East regions (Turkey, Iran and southern Armenia) by Baud et al.(2007, 2005, 1997) and Pruss et al. (2006). Later, abundant ostracodes have been reported from the Çürük Dağ microbialites, southern Turkey (Crasquin-Soleau et al., 2004a, b, 2002). Richoz (2006) documented stratigraphy and paleontology from the P-Tr successions of southern Turkey and Oman. In fact, when presenting the pioneer studies on the Permian-Triassic carbon isotopes from the Tethyan region, Baud et al. (1989) have also described briefly the P-Tr transition and Lower Triassic successions of the Çürük Dağ Section in southern Turkey, the Vedi and Sovetachen sections in southern Armenia, and the Guryul Ravine Section in Kashmir, northern India. Later, Baud et al. (1996) documented the detailed sequence stratigraphy and C isotope studies of the Kashmir sections.
All of these sections have been examined during the IGCP 572 and 630 field workshops in the past decade. The sections from these four regions include two classic sites (Kashmir, Armenia) and two relatively less studied sites (southern Turkey and Oman). The final results of our field workshops in these regions are reviewed, and hopefully provide some new information for future studies on the P-Tr issues in these regions as well as elsewhere in the world.1 THE IGCP 572 FIELD WORKSHOP IN SOUTH TURKEY, SEPTEMBER 2-6, 2009
A one-day meeting (Fig. 1), September 3, 2009 was organized at the Engineering Faculty Akdeniz University in Antalya, with the help of Dr. Kosun. About 30 participants were welcomed by the Dean of the Faculty and the Director of the Geological Institute. The opening of the session was dedicated to the Memory of Dr. Jean Marcoux, with a reminder of his entire scientific career and his works on the Permian and Triassic of the area (Baud, 2009).
This field workshop examined the Çürük Dağ in the Antalya Mountains, the Demirtaş Section near Alanya, and the Oznur Tepe Section, ~10 km northeast of Gazipa a (Baud et al., 2009). Of these, the Çürük Dağ Section is one of the best exposed sites of the P-Tr transition in the southern Turkey (Fig. 2a). M. Forel reported her findings of abundant ostracods from the basal Triassic microbialites of Çürük Dağ Section at the workshop, and these ostracods are important metazoans of the PTB microbialite ecosystem (Forel, 2014, 2010). Clearly, ostracods survived the P-Tr crisis in a microbial refuge. Great abundance of ostracods within the Çürük Dağ microbialites allows reconstructing ontogenetic series for nine ostracod species over the P-Tr transition. Another interesting presentation based on the southern Turkey sections is the geobiology of the Çürük Dağ microbialite given by S. Kershaw who also discussed with the participants about the link between microbialite and oolite deposits at the same locality. However, the oolite units of these four Turkish sections examined during this field workshop, namely Çürük Dağ (Fig. 2b-2), Kopuk dağ, Demirtaş, and Oznur Tepe, are important components of the global oolite deposits across the PTB, as synthesized by Li et al. (2015). Like microbialite, these PTB ooids also indicate microbial proliferation immediately after the P-Tr mass extinction (Li et al., 2015).
The Çürük Dağ Section not only provides the well-preserved materials indicating detailed geobiologic features of the PTB microbialites, but also documents the case that the PTB microbialites grew in an oxic environmental condition (Kershaw et al., 2012, 2011). Instead, pyrite framboids have been reported from the pre-extinction nodular limestone (Fig. 2b-1) of the uppermost Permian, just below the oolite unit (Fig. 2b-2), as shown by Varol et al. (2011). It confirms our previous analysis of high resolution carbonate associated sulfate (CAS) across the PTB in the Çürük Dağ Section: Upper Permian strata exhibit extreme sulfur isotopic fluctuations over a short stratigraphic interval with heavy sulfur isotopic values at the boundary. This rise goes on through a series of periodic ~5 per mil fluctuations into the Lower Triassic (Marenco et al., 2004). Similarly, REE and trace metals derived from the PTB microbialites demonstrated that 'the shallow shelf environments (i.e., Çürük Dağ) were fully oxygenated in the immediate aftermath of the end-Permian extinction' (Collin et al., 2014).
In contrast, many examples of the PTB microbialites from South China indicate a weekly anoxic to dyoxic condition (Fang et al., 2017; Wu et al., 2017; Yang et al., 2011; Liao et al., 2010). Debate on the redox conditions of the PTB microbialites still continues. Kershaw et al. (2018) still believed that there are no pyrite framboids occurring in the Çürük Dağ microbialite. More recently, Heindel et al. (2018) are giving information on lipid biomarkers and microbial-metazoan bioherms of the Çürük Dağ Section (Fig. 2b-3). These authors found that the Early Griesbachian thrombolites and stromatolites from Cürük Dag (Turkey) and Kuh e Surmeh (Iran) contain abundant lipid biomarkers (molecular fossils), representing input from cyanobacteria, anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria, and halophilic archaea (Heindel et al., 2018). Thus, various proxies indicate different redox conditions for the PTB microbialites even in the same section. Additional works are suggested to be undertaken to reveal the true redox conditions of these exceptionally abundant microbialites immediately after the P-Tr biocrisis worldwide.2 THE IGCP 572 FIELD WORKSHOP IN THE SULTANATE OF OMAN, FEBRUARY 20-26, 2010
Before the field excursion, a one-day meeting (Fig. 3), February 21, 2010, was organized at the GuTech campus (Muscat area) by Michaela Bernecker. It started with an introduction to the field-trip followed by 11 scientific oral presentations. During the 5-day field excursion, five key sections, from shallow to deep water facies, with slope deposits and seamount were examined.
Detailed carbon isotope curves and sedimentary evolution of the Permian-Triassic transition from Iran and Oman are given by Richoz et al. (2010). A synthesis of the slope to oceanic deposits is published by Richoz et al. (2014), with description of P-Tr transition in various settings (Figs. 4-5). Some latest Permian internal perturbed sedimentary structures were shown during the first day excursion on the Saih Hatat, which was later interpreted as seismite event (Weidlich and Bernecker, 2012). These unusual biosedimentary structures were also interpreted as a recorded gap, calcite precipitation and microbialite in the Lower Triassic (Weidlich and Bernecker, 2011).
The relatively poor stratigraphic frameworks in this region present further more comprehensive studies, and the essential stratigraphy requires additional detailed studies. For instance, Baud et al. (2012a) emphasizes basic corrections on the Saiq-Mahil formations boundary and the P-Tr transition in their stratigraphic note. The corrected stratigraphic subdivision scheme is still plausible for sequence stratigraphy and shallow water P-Tr deposits in the Oman Mountains (Forke et al., 2014; Fig. 4), with reference to the Saiq Plateau Section (Fig. 6). In addition, The P-Tr deep water deposits on pillow-lava at the Buday'ah Section (Fig. 5) with additional biostratigraphy have been detailed by Baud et al. (2012c). A new paleokarst finding in the Middle Permian part of the Saiq Formation is presented in Baud et al.(2012a, b). Heindel et al. (2015) undertook biomarker analysis on the Lower Triassic limestone with the coin-in-coin structures from Oman, and they suggested that these unusual carbonate precipitates are microbial in origin.
Working on the sections described in the IGCP guide book (i.e., the Saiq Plateau Section; Fig. 6), Clarkson et al. (2016) proposed the hypothesis of the P-Tr anoxic ferruginous conditions. These authors concluded that the Arabian Margin record demonstrates the repeated expansion of ferruginous conditions with the distal slope being the focus of anoxia at these times, as well as short-lived episodes of oxia that supported diverse biota (Clarkson et al., 2016). According to Silva-Tamayo et al. (2018), a global perturbation of the marine calcium cycle is also recorded in the shallow water PTB carbonate of the Saiq Plateau (Fig. 6). All measured sections display negative shifts in δ44/40Ca of up to 0.6‰ at the P-Tr transition.
In the region, the Lower Triassic paleontological studies have been advanced, including very rich Smithian ammonoid fauna (Brühwiler et al., 2014), new Lower Triassic shark teeth and dental remains (Koot et al., 2015), and basal Triassic rich crinoidal, ammonoid and conodont faunas (Brosse et al., 2018), all coming from open ocean, exotic carbonate boulders (Fig. 7). These fossils represent both nektonic and benthic faunas, including conodonts, ammonoids, gastropods, and crinoids. These newly found faunas from Oman shed a light to the ecology and diversity during the early aftermath of the P-Tr mass extinction (Brosse et al., 2018).
Thus, recent discovery of highly fossiliferous Lower Triassic boulders (Fig. 7) and giant reef blocks in SE Oman (Batain area) are opening a promising new field of researches and associate results on oxic carbonate sediments, out of the continental margin pollution. Goudemand (2017) also proposed that one of this fossiliferous block yields abundant conodont and ammonoid zones that are an excellent auxiliary for the IOB stratotype. On the Saiq Plateau, the ongoing researches undertaken by Benoit Beauchamp and colleagues focus on the Permian millenium cycles and glendonite occurring above the Middle Permian reef limestone. A great research potential for stratigraphy, biochronology, sedimentology, and geochemistry is offered by the newly found Lower Triassic unaltered, rich fossil-bearing blocks in the Batain area. All the sections described and illustrated in the IGCP field workshop in 2010 still continue to attract geoscientists to undertake further studies on the P-Tr issues.3 THE FIRST IGCP 630 FIELD MEETING WAS HELD DURING NOVEMBER 17-22, 2014 IN SRINAGAR, KASHMIR, NORTH INDIA
Prior to field workshop (Fig. 8), an indoor meeting was organized on November 17, 2014 at Hotel Heemal. Aymon Baud presented an introduction to the fieldtrip, with the main topics to be discussed on the Late Permian transgression, the P-Tr transition, the Lower Triassic stratigraphic succession at the three main visited localities: Guryul Ravine, Mandakpal, and Barus Spur, all situated in the Kashmir Valley (Baud and Bhat, 2014). Of these, the Guryul Ravine Section is a classic site for the study on the PTB and associated extreme events (Nakazawa et al., 1975). Elemental geochemical and pyrite framboid analyses suggested that widespread anoxia may be associated with the P-Tr extinction in Guryul Ravine (Brookfield et al., 2003, 2013; Wignall et al., 2005).
Concurrently, Krystyn et al. (2014) questioned tsunami-related event beds induced by the Siberian Trap basalts. Parcha et al. (2015) interpreted the Late Permian deposits as the result of the sedimentation in shallow marine conditions based on trace fossil evidence. Renewed studies on the Guryul Ravine (Figs. 9-10) and adjacent PTB sections are given by new updated geochemical works (Huang et al., 2018; Kumar et al., 2017; Mir et al., 2016; Nye et al., 2016).
The Guryul Ravine PTB siliciclastic succession reveals a low-to-moderate degree of chemical weathering with a felsic igneous provenance (Mir et al., 2016). The Mandakpal Valley Section, like Guryul Ravine, records episodic anoxia/euxinia as well as evidence of changes in sedimentation rate (Nye et al., 2016). With the chemostratigraphic record of these two sections in Kashmir compared to southern Neo-Tethys sections in Spiti Valley (Himachal Pradesh, India) and the well-studied Paleo-Tethys sections such as Meishan. The Kashmir region of the Neo-Tethys was typified by dysoxia with increasing frequency of anoxic/euxinic intervals approaching the P-Tr transition (Nye et al., 2016). After analyzing major, trace and rare earth elements derived from the Guryul Ravine, Kumar et al. (2017) found that the paleoenvironments from the Late Permian to Early Triassic transformed from oxidizing to reducing conditions. Huang et al. (2018) recognized episodic anoxia across the PTB in Guryul Ravine based on high-resolution pyrite framboid analyses throughout the P-Tr transition.
In addition, possible paleo-wildfire in the form of charcoal has documented from the lower part of the Changhsingian Zewan Formation at Zewan Spur, 3 km west of Guryul Ravine (Jasper et al., 2016), providing some additional evidences for the widespread wildfires during the latest Permian times.
With regards of paleontological studies, Tewari et al. (2015) undertook the first palynological study of the P-Tr succession in the Guryul Ravine, Kashmir, India. These authors found the impoverished latest Permian sporepollen assemblages in the uppermost Zewan Formation, a rich palynoassemblage from the basal Khunamuh Formation, characteristic of the P-Tr transition zone, and depleted Triassic assemblages from higher in the Khunamuh Formation (Tewari et al., 2015). Foraminiferal assemblage of the Changhsingian Zewan Formation has been documented by Pande and Sharma (2015), with a particular attention to rotaloid group that first originated in cool-water Peri-Gondwana Neo-Tethys and migrated later worldwide. The discovery of well-preserved organic eukariotic protist (thecamoebians) that cross without damage the PTB was presented by Singh et al. (2015). Paleontological work and detailed Induan conodont zonation of the Guryul Ravine Section are also given in Brosse et al. (2017), who established 11 unitary association zones (UAZ) from the PTB up to the Dienerian. The Otoceras bed (Bed 52) marks the base of the Triassic (Fig. 10). The Griesbachian-Dienerian boundary is about 2 m below the base of the Member F (Fig. 9). Brookfield and Sun (2015) also mentioned the possible occurrence of the Gondwana type conodont Vjalovognathus? in the Upper Permian succession in Kashmir.
Moreover, the new, detailed carbon isotope values have been reported from the Induan succession (Brosse et al., 2017), and the Smithian-Spathian interval (Leu et al., 2014) in Guryul Ravine. These carbon isotopic excursions are of help in correlating the PTB and Lower Triassic chemostratigraphy of Kashmir with their counterparts revealed from South China (i.e., Tong et al., 2007; Payne et al., 2004).4 IGCP 630 CONFERENCE AND FIELD EXCURSION ON THE P-TR EXTINCTION EVENT IN ARMENIA, OCTOBER 8-14, 2017.
As the Transcaucasia region is one of the classic regions in the world where continuous sections of Upper Permian and Lower Triassic strata with marine faunas can be observed, this IGCP 630 annual conference and field workshop (Fig. 11) were organized in Armenia by Lilit Sahakyan, Aymon Baud, and Zhong-Qiang Chen on October 8-14, 2017. A one-day conference was organized at the Round Hall of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Republic of Armenia with a welcome speech was addressed by the Director of IGS, Dr. Kh. Meliksetian followed by a presentation and a review on the geology and tectonics of the territory of Armenia based on new data, by Dr. Lilit Sahakyan, Deputy Director of IGS. Aymon Baud presented an introduction to the fieldtrip, with the main topics to be discussed on the Upper Permian shallow followed by deeper water limestone with red ammonoid Paratirolites beds, the P-Tr transition with the boundary shale, the Lower Triassic stratigraphic succession with their sponge-microbial build-ups at the three main localities: Ogbin, Chanakchi, and Vedi (Sahakyan et al., 2017a, b). Four sessions and fourteen talks led this first day conference.
Recent studies on the Armenian basal Triassic sponge-microbial build-ups (SMB) were presented (Baud et al., 2017, 2015a; Friesenbichler et al., 2016a, b, 2015) and are now published by Friesenbichler et al. (2018). Another team (Joachimski et al., 2017, 2013; Grigoryan et al., 2015) is continuing researches on paleo-temperature data on the PTB sections based on conodont bioapatite oxygen isotopic analysis. The great number of collected samples by participants will bring new results via studies of biostratigraphy, paleoecology, sedimentology, geochemistry, biogeochemistry and of the evolution of sponge-microbial mounds (Fig. 12) according to the recovery of marine ecosystems following the P-Tr mass extinction.
It is worth noting that the microbialite succession is throughout the base of the Griesbachian (Fig. 12) to the top of Dienerian (Fig. 13) in the Chanakchi Section, southern Armenia. The ~200-m-thick microbial carbonate strata characterize the lower part of the Lower Triassic succession in southern Armenia, and they represent the thickest continuous microbialite succession in the world. Such exceptionally preserved microbialite deposits indicate the longest proliferation of microbes immediately after the P-Tr crisis in the world, suggesting the degraded, microbe-dominated ecosystem in the aftermath of the greatest extinction (Chen and Benton, 2012).5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
To resume, these IGCP field workshops not only renewed local studies with advances in Earth Science, but open four main new fields of researches.
(1) A high energy event with ooid banks is now well recorded at the basal Triassic carbonate succession in shallow marine settings. Such an ooid bank has been shown during the southern Turkey and Oman field workshops, and, now, is found all along the basal Triassic shallow water part of the Gondwana margins and also in the shallow marine of the Nanpanjing Basin, South China (Bagherpour et al., 2017; Li et al., 2015).
(2) A new way to study the aftermath of the greatest extinction was open by the IGCP 572 and 630 field workshops showing well-proved oxic environment during the earliest Triassic in South Turkey and Oman sections, after a decade of teaching and publishing papers on the absolute global Early Triassic ocean anoxia. If a so-called rapid biotic rebound started in Late Griesbachian in some South China sections (Dai et al., 2018), we have shown in Oman from Krystyn et al. (2003) (the Wasit Block shown during the Oman IGCP 572 field workshop in 2010) to Brosse et al. (2018) that the post-extinction life in the basal Triassic (=Early Griesbachian) was much more abundant than previously thought and of relative high diversity.
(3) The new basal Triassic metazoan-microbial build-ups initially discovered by the team of Sylvain Richoz, Aymon Baud, Lilit Shahakian, and Leopold Krystyn have been described (Friesenbichler et al., 2018). The Armenian IGCP 630 field workshop gave a unique opportunity to examine and to sample these giant sponge-microbial mounds. It opens a new window in researches on the basal Triassic microbialites, and some publications are now available or being submitted (Baud et al., 2018; Heindel et al., 2018).
(4) If the Siberian traps and coeval volcanisms are one of the key causes responsible for the great dying, little attention was given to the end-Permian earthquake and tsunami events. The Kashmir IGCP 630 field workshop offered the opportunity to examine possible paleo-tsunami recorded at top of the Zewan Formation (uppermost Permian) in Guryul Ravine Section (Bed 46; Brookfield et al., 2013). Possibly linked seismite event has been found in the same age of the shallow water sediments of Oman (Saih Hatat; Weidlich and Bernecker, 2012), and on the Saiq Plateau (Fig. 6-E1) (Baud et al., 2015a). A link possibly exists between the high energy event as a coastal end-path of a tsunami, and linked earthquake can be the cause accountable for the scalloped margin perturbation observed at the topmost Permian succession of the Sumeini slope section as shown during the Oman IGCP 630 field workshop, as also the topmost Permian boulder breccia found in the Batain (Baud et al., 2015b). Further researches are open on the Gondwana side, as suggested by Tohver et al. (2018), on the end-Permian impactogenic earthquake and tsunami in the Parana Basin of Brazil.ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Professor Lilit Sahakyan was in charge and organized very successful IGCP field workshop in Armenia. She helped on the Armenian report, and I thank her here a lot. For each of our IGCP meetings we get a precious and valuable local help. Professor Ghulam Bhat prepared and welcomed the Kashmir IGCP meeting, as does Erdal Kosun, Assistant Professor for the South Turkey IGCP field workshop. Professor Michaela Bernecker gave unforgettable facilities for the IGCP conference and field excursion in the Sultanate of Oman. Her sudden death in 2017 touched us a lot. This is a contribution to IGCP 630. The final publication is available at Springer via https://doi.org/10.1007/s12583-018-0796-2.
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