92055201-NC:Mercury evidence for combustion of organic-rich sediments during the end-Triassic crisis
Abstract:The sources of isotopically light carbon released during the end-Triassic mass extinction remain in debate. Here, we use mercury (Hg) concentrations and isotopes from a pelagic Triassic–Jurassic boundary section (Katsuyama, Japan) to track changes in Hg cycling. Because of its location in the central Panthalassa, far from terrigenous runoff, Hg enrichments at Katsuyama record atmospheric Hg deposition. These enrichments are characterized by negative mass independent fractionation (MIF) of odd Hg isotopes, providing evidence of their derivation from terrestrial organic-rich sediments (Δ199Hg < 0‰) rather than from deep-Earth volcanic gases (Δ199Hg ~ 0‰). Our data thus provide evidence that combustion of sedimentary organic matter by igneous intrusions and/or wildfifires played a signifificant role in the environmental perturbations accompanying the event. This process has a modern analog in anthropogenic combustion of fossil fuels from crustal reservoirs.