Research Topic

Permian Extinctions

About this Research Topic

The Permian Period of Earth history, about 299-252 million years ago, was a Pangean world where the vast supercontinent stretched nearly from pole to pole. The late Paleozoic ice ages culminated in southern Gondwana, ending with the collapse of the major ice sheets during the early Permian. In the Pangean tropics, the extensive right lateral fault system along which the Gondwanan and Laurussian supercontinents were sutured encompassed a series of orogenic belts--Hercynian (Variscan), Alleghanian and the ancestral Rocky Mountains - that shed sediments that comprise a substantial portion of the Permian sedimentary rock record.

The end of the Permian witnessed the most substantial marine extinction of the Phanerozoic. A second mass extinction in the marine realm, the end-Guadalupian extinction across the middle –late Permian boundary, has also been posited. Some researchers regard the two marine extinctions, end-Guadalupian and end-Permian, to be connected to each other as an initial extinction that set up the later extinction. Mass extinctions of terrestrial land plants have been identified by some at the end of the Guadalupian and the end of the Permian, but identification of these mass extinctions is not agreed on. Permian extinctions of tetrapods (amphibians and “reptiles”) have been posited for the end of the early Permian (Olson’s extinction), end of the Guadalupian (dinocephalian extinction event) and end of the Permian, but these extinctions are also under discussion. Indeed, other than the end-Permian marine extinction, all proposed Permian mass extinctions, marine and terrestrial, remain a subject of lively disagreement.

The climatic effects of volcanism (Emeishan volcanism across the middle-late Permian boundary and, Siberian trap volcanism across the Permo-Triassic boundary) are generally seen as the most likely causes of Permian mass extinctions. However, the precise mechanism by which volcanism may have caused climate changes that drove Permian mass extinctions is not agreed upon. Indeed, some researchers advocate non-volcanic cases of Permian extinctions, including asteroid impacts and supernovae.

Recovery from Permian mass extinctions also remains an area for ongoing research and discussion. Recovery from the end-Permian marine extinction, traditionally seen as prolonged, having lasted through most or all of the Early Triassic, is seen from new evidence to have been relatively fast. Recently collected and analyzed data on this topic, as well as on all other aspects of Permian extinctions, indicate that there is much new information that is changing long held conclusions.

Permian extinctions and recovery thus are a topic of much active research and discussion. This Research Topic for Frontiers in Earth Science intends to include the most recent research and discussion of Permian extinctions and recovery to further understanding of this complex and controversial subject.

Topics to be covered include:

• End-Permian marine extinctions;
• End-Guadalupian marine extinctions;
• Recovery from Permian mass extinctions;
• Permian plant extinctions;
• Permian arthropod extinctions;
• Permian vertebrate extinctions;
• Timing and magnitude of Permian extinctions;
• Volcanism as a cause of Permian extinctions;
• Non-volcanic causes of Permian extinctions.

Cover Image by Matt Celeskey.


Keywords: permian, mass extinctions, diversity, volcanism, climate


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The Permian Period of Earth history, about 299-252 million years ago, was a Pangean world where the vast supercontinent stretched nearly from pole to pole. The late Paleozoic ice ages culminated in southern Gondwana, ending with the collapse of the major ice sheets during the early Permian. In the Pangean tropics, the extensive right lateral fault system along which the Gondwanan and Laurussian supercontinents were sutured encompassed a series of orogenic belts--Hercynian (Variscan), Alleghanian and the ancestral Rocky Mountains - that shed sediments that comprise a substantial portion of the Permian sedimentary rock record.

The end of the Permian witnessed the most substantial marine extinction of the Phanerozoic. A second mass extinction in the marine realm, the end-Guadalupian extinction across the middle –late Permian boundary, has also been posited. Some researchers regard the two marine extinctions, end-Guadalupian and end-Permian, to be connected to each other as an initial extinction that set up the later extinction. Mass extinctions of terrestrial land plants have been identified by some at the end of the Guadalupian and the end of the Permian, but identification of these mass extinctions is not agreed on. Permian extinctions of tetrapods (amphibians and “reptiles”) have been posited for the end of the early Permian (Olson’s extinction), end of the Guadalupian (dinocephalian extinction event) and end of the Permian, but these extinctions are also under discussion. Indeed, other than the end-Permian marine extinction, all proposed Permian mass extinctions, marine and terrestrial, remain a subject of lively disagreement.

The climatic effects of volcanism (Emeishan volcanism across the middle-late Permian boundary and, Siberian trap volcanism across the Permo-Triassic boundary) are generally seen as the most likely causes of Permian mass extinctions. However, the precise mechanism by which volcanism may have caused climate changes that drove Permian mass extinctions is not agreed upon. Indeed, some researchers advocate non-volcanic cases of Permian extinctions, including asteroid impacts and supernovae.

Recovery from Permian mass extinctions also remains an area for ongoing research and discussion. Recovery from the end-Permian marine extinction, traditionally seen as prolonged, having lasted through most or all of the Early Triassic, is seen from new evidence to have been relatively fast. Recently collected and analyzed data on this topic, as well as on all other aspects of Permian extinctions, indicate that there is much new information that is changing long held conclusions.

Permian extinctions and recovery thus are a topic of much active research and discussion. This Research Topic for Frontiers in Earth Science intends to include the most recent research and discussion of Permian extinctions and recovery to further understanding of this complex and controversial subject.

Topics to be covered include:

• End-Permian marine extinctions;
• End-Guadalupian marine extinctions;
• Recovery from Permian mass extinctions;
• Permian plant extinctions;
• Permian arthropod extinctions;
• Permian vertebrate extinctions;
• Timing and magnitude of Permian extinctions;
• Volcanism as a cause of Permian extinctions;
• Non-volcanic causes of Permian extinctions.

Cover Image by Matt Celeskey.


Keywords: permian, mass extinctions, diversity, volcanism, climate


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 September 2020 Manuscript

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Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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