Journal Article

Dying in the sun : direct evidence for elevated UV-B radiation at the end-Permian mass extinction


Land plants can adjust the concentration of protective UV-B-absorbing compounds (UACs) in the outer wall of their reproductive propagules in response to ambient UV-B flux. To infer changes in UV-B-radiation flux at the Earth’s surface during the end-Permian mass extinction, we analyze UAC abundances in ca. 800 pollen grains from an independently-dated Permian-Triassic boundary section in Tibet. Our data reveal an excursion in UACs that coincide with a spike in mercury concentration and a negative carbon-isotope excursion in the latest Permian deposits, suggesting a close temporal link between large-scale volcanic eruptions, global carbon- and mercury-cycle perturbations, and ozone-layer disruption. Because enhanced UV-B radiation can exacerbate the environmental deterioration induced by massive magmatism, ozone depletion is considered a compelling ecological driver for the terrestrial mass extinction.

Attached files


Liu Feng
Peng Huiping
Marshall, John E.A.
Lomax, Barry H.
Bomfleur, Benjamin
Kent, Matthew S.
Fraser, Wesley T.
Jardine, Phillip E.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-12-16

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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