Nickel isotopes link Siberian Traps aerosol particles to the end-Permian mass extinction

Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 1;12(1):2024. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22066-7.


The end-Permian mass extinction (EPME) was the most severe extinction event in the past 540 million years, and the Siberian Traps large igneous province (STLIP) is widely hypothesized to have been the primary trigger for the environmental catastrophe. The killing mechanisms depend critically on the nature of volatiles ejected during STLIP eruptions, initiating about 300 kyr before the extinction event, because the atmosphere is the primary interface between magmatism and extinction. Here we report Ni isotopes for Permian-Triassic sedimentary rocks from Arctic Canada. The δ60Ni data range from -1.09‰ to 0.35‰, and exhibit the lightest δ60Ni compositions ever reported for sedimentary rocks. Our results provide strong evidence for global dispersion and loading of Ni-rich aerosol particles into the Panthalassic Ocean. Our data demonstrate that environmental degradation had begun well before the extinction event and provide a link between global dispersion of Ni-rich aerosols, ocean chemistry changes, and the EPME.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.