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Carbon isotope shifts recorded in the Cambrian System, South China: Implications for mass extinctions and sea-level fluctuations

Jingxun Zuo a, Shanchi Peng b, Yuping Qi b, Xuejian Zhu b, Gabriella Bagnoli c, Huaibin Fang a
aHenan Institute of Geological Survey, 450001, Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China;bState Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy (Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology,Chinese Academy of Sciences), 210008, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China;c Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa, Via S. Maria, 53, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Abstract:

Cambrian carbonates with abundant fossils of agnostoid trilobites deposited on the southern slope of the Yangtze Platform and in the Jiangnan Deepwater Basin are well exposed in the Wangcun section of western Hunan and in the Duibian A section of western Zhejiang, South China, respectively. To better understand the response of carbon isotope shifts to depositional environment changes, mass extinctions and eustatic events, we collected 530 carbonate samples in fresh roadcut exposures of the two measured sections for analysis of carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions. No covariant correlation between δ13C and δ18O indicated that most carbonates in the measured sections still maintain the primary signatures of ancient seawater, although δ18O values are less than -10‰ in some interval successions. Data for δ13C demonstrate that the Cambrian carbon isotopic profile includes three remarkable positive shifts in the late Epoch 2 and the early and middle Furongian Epoch. Three distinctive negative shifts were separately tested in the early Terreneuvian Epoch, early Epoch 3 and the late Furongian Epoch. We interpret these significant carbon isotope shifts as being associated with enhanced biogenic productivity, mass extinctions and eustatic events.

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Keywords:carbon isotope shift; mass extinction; sea-level change; Cambrian; South China

DOI:
10.1007/s12583-017-0963-x
CLC number:
U469.72
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