Ocean acidification and the Permo-Triassic mass extinction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ocean acidification triggered by Siberian Trap volcanism was a possible kill mechanism for the Permo-Triassic Boundary mass extinction, but direct evidence for an acidification event is lacking. We present a high-resolution seawater pH record across this interval, using boron isotope data combined with a quantitative modeling approach. In the latest Permian, increased ocean alkalinity primed the Earth system with a low level of atmospheric CO2 and a high ocean buffering capacity. The first phase of extinction was coincident with a slow injection of carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean pH remained stable. During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota.


  • M. O. Clarkson
  • S. A. Kasemann
  • R. A. Wood
  • T. M. Lenton
  • S. J. Daines
  • S. Richoz
  • F. Ohnemueller
  • A. Meixner
  • S. W. Poulton
  • E. T. Tipper
External organisations
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Bremen
  • University of Exeter
  • Karl-Franzens-University of Graz
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Cambridge
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-232
Number of pages4
Issue number6231
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 10
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes