Marine anoxia and delayed Earth system recovery after the end-Permian extinction

The end-Permian mass extinction not only decimated taxonomic diversity but also disrupted the functioning of global ecosystems and the stability of biogeochemical cycles. Explaining the 5-million-year delay between the mass extinction and Earth system recovery remains a fundamental challenge in both the Earth and biological sciences. We use coupled records of uranium concentrations and isotopic compositions to constrain global marine redox conditions across the end-Permian extinction horizon and through the subsequent 17 million years of Earth system recovery. Our finding that the trajectory of biological and biogeochemical recovery corresponds to variations in an ocean characterized by extensive, shallow marine anoxia provides, to our knowledge, the first unified explanation for these observations.

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