Synchrony between the Central Atlantic magmatic province and the Triassic-Jurassic mass-extinction event? Reply to Marzoli et al.
We are very pleased with the attention, long overdue, that the Triassic–Jurassic boundary and associated events, such as the CAMP, are receiving. This can only lead to greater specificity of hypotheses and greater understanding in the long run, and it is worth emphasizing some broad areas of agreement. Marzoli et al. (2008-this volume) points out the closeness in time of CAMP and Tr–J extinctions, and on this we all agree. We also agree that the systematic differences among different isotopic systems used for dating is a challenge to determining the relative timing of events dated with different techniques. This problem, however, seem to be fading as high-precision single-crystal U–Pb dates (206Pb/238U) are available from a variety of tuffs interbedded with marine strata as well as the North Mountain Basalt of Nova Scotia, which lies above the palynological Triassic–Jurassic extinction event in Nova Scotia. Schoene et al. (2006) obtained an age of 201.27 ± 0.03 Ma from this basalt, which is very close to an age of 201.5 Ma for a tuff 1 m above the last local occurrence of the topmost Triassic guide-fossil, the ammonite Choristoceras in a marine section in Peru (Schaltegger et al., 2007), presumably very close to the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Schaltegger et al. (2007) also obtained an age of 199.5 Ma for the Hettangian–Sinemurian boundary from the latter section. Consistent with these ages, Pálfy and Mundil (2006) obtained ages of 200.6 ± 0.3 Ma for an ash layer in ammonite-bearing Middle Hettangian marine sediments in, Alaska, and 198.0 ± 0.6 Ma for a tuff layer in Early Sinemurian sediments in Hungary. These dates are not compatible with the multi-crystal age for the Triassic–Jurassic boundary of 199.6 ± 0.3 Ma of Pálfy and Mundil (2006), a fact recognized by Pálfy and Mundil (2006). Thus, we are in complete agreement that the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event is extremely close in time to the onset of the CAMP. The question is, "are any of the known flows of the CAMP actually at or before this extinction event?". That is the key issue dealt with by Whiteside et al. (2007), and it is a possibility that we recognize as completely plausible, but not yet demonstrated. It is in that spirit of general agreement that we reply to Marzoli et al.'s, comment. We note, however, that their comment touches on far too many points to adequately address in this reply, and we chose to focus our response on their most substantive issues, recalling that our paper was focusing on the testable aspects of their overall hypothesis. We deal with their criticisms in the order they present them.
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- January 17, 2012