Periodic fluctuations of marine oxygen content during the latest Permian
© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Widespread oceanic anoxia has been implicated as a killing mechanism during the end-Permian mass extinction (EPME). A high-resolution investigation of pyrite framboids and bioturbation structures in the Shangsi section of South China has revealed repeated and frequent fluctuations of coupled anoxic/euxinic to dysoxic/oxic episodes in the latest Permian, immediately preceding the EPME. Anoxic bottom waters and interstitial water conditions are documented by the smallest pyrite framboids (3–5 μm) and the absence of bioturbation, and dysoxic bottom waters and anoxic interstitial waters are inferred from larger pyrite framboids (6–10 μm) and the occurrence of Zoophycos. In comparison, oxic conditions for both bottom waters and interstitial waters are revealed by a high bioturbation index (BI = 4) and the occurrence of mid-tier Thalassinoides. Fluctuating pyrite framboid sizes and bioturbation structures suggest that bottom and interstitial oxygen levels were neither fully, nor persistently, anoxic/euxinic before the EPME, and instead recorded frequent periodic fluctuations between anoxic/euxinic and dysoxic/oxic conditions. The paleoceanic redox variation appears to correlate with the 405-ka eccentricity cycles in the anhysteretic remanent magnetization (ARM) series, suggesting that fluctuations might have been controlled by Milankovitch cycles. The role of fluctuations between anoxic/euxinic and dysoxic/oxic episodes in the latest Permian to the EPME is unclear, but it seems plausible that they represent a prelude to the highly stressed conditions that are characteristic of the EPME.