You are here: Palaeontology / News

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 285

Nützel, A., Joachimski, M. & López Correa, M.

Nützel et al

Nützel, A., Joachimski, M. & López Correa, M. (2010):

Pronounced seasonal climatic fluctuations in the Late Triassic tropics - high-resolution oxygen isotope records from aragonitic bivalve shells (Cassian Formation, Northern Italy)

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 285, 194-204; doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.11.011.

Three megalodontoid bivalves from the Upper Triassic Cassian Formation (N Italy, Dolomites) were sampled for
d13C and d18O sclerochronology (n=270). With more than 1000 described invertebrate
species, the Cassian Formation has one of the best records of an Early
Mesozoic tropical fauna. In addition, the Cassian Formation is one of the very few Triassic occurrences with original aragonite preservation, with all studied shells consisting of pristine aragonite. The presence of aragonite and crossed lamellar as well as fibrous prismatic shell
microstructures shown for the first time for Triassic megalodontoids
suggests absence or minimal impact of diagenetic alteration. The d13C values range from 3.6 to 5.8‰ and show a distinct cyclicity in two studied shells whereas a third shell shows no obvious cyclicity. In one bivalve specimen, the cycles are somewhat offset from d18O cycles and in the other specimen d 8O and d13C curves are inversely correlated. Seasonal variation in freshwater runoff including nutrient input and subsequent changes in plankton productivity during dry and wet seasons may explain d13C cyclicity. d18O values show a pronounced cyclicity within each of the studied shells varying from -3.6 to -1.4‰. The variations in d18O suggest a pronounced seasonality in Late Triassic tropical shallow waters of the western Tethys, with inferred seasonal temperature changes ranging from 24 to 32 °C. Influx of fresh water during the rainy seasons (mega-monsoon) or upwelling might also explain part of the variation in d18O. The presented data suggest that the diverse Cassian fauna lived under conditions characterized by warm sea-surface waters with a pronounced seasonality. Similar conditions are reported for some modern tropical settings.