Leszek Marynowski, Andrew C. Scott, Michał Zatoń, Horacio Parent, Alberto C. Garrido

Wildfires play a crucial role in recent and ancient ecosystem modeling but their detailed history on the Earth is still not well recorded or understood. The co-occurrence of charcoal and pyrolytic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is used for the recognition of wildfires in geological record that may have implications for the analysis of the terrestrial environment, ecosystems, climate and the level of atmospheric oxygen. Here we present the first multi-proxy evidence of wildfires on the Gondwana continent during the Jurassic, based on the occurrence of charcoal and pyrolytic PAHs in the Middle Jurassic of the Neuquén Basin, Argentina. This is the first evidence of wildfire in the Aalenian, the lowest stage of the Middle Jurassic, and one of the few records of wildfires in the Bathonian. Temperature interpretations, derived from charcoal reflectance data, show that charcoals formed in low temperature surface fires that only sporadically reached the higher temperatures, possibly related to crown fires. The occurrence of charcoals in the Middle Jurassic deposits confirms recent results that the atmospheric oxygen level reached at least 15% during the Middle Jurassic times.

Marynowski, L., Scott, A. C., Zatoń, M., Parent, H. & Garrido, A. C. 2011. First multi-proxy record of Jurassic wildfires from Gondwana: Evidence from the Middle Jurassic of the Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 299 (2011) 129136.

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