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Magma Storage System and Hidden Hotspot Track of the Emeishan Large Igneous Province and its Impact on the Timing of the Capitanian Mass Extinction
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  • Yiduo Liu,
  • Lun Li,
  • Jolante Van Wijk,
  • Aibing Li,
  • Yuanyuan V Fu
Yiduo Liu
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston
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Lun Li
Guangdong Provincial Key Lab of Geodynamics and Geohazards, School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Jolante Van Wijk
Department of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
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Aibing Li
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston
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Yuanyuan V Fu
Key Laboratory of Earthquake Prediction, Institute of Earthquake Forecasting, China Earthquake Administration
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Large igneous provinces (LIPs) are often associated with mass extinctions and are vital for life evolution on Earth. However, the precise relation between LIPs and their impacts on biodiversity is enigmatic as they can be asynchronous. If the environmental impacts are primarily related to sill emplacement, the structure of LIPs’ magma storage system becomes critical as it dictates the occurrence and timing of mass extinction. Here we use surface wave tomography to image the lithosphere under the Permian Emeishan Large Igneous Province (ELIP) in SW China. We find a NE-trending zone of high shear-wave velocity (Vs) and negative radial anisotropy (Vsv > Vsh) in the crust and lithosphere and interpret it as a mafic-ultramafic, dike-dominated magma storage system on the hidden hotspot track of the ELIP. An area of less-negative radial anisotropy, on the hotspot track but away from the eruption center, reflects an elevated proportion of sills emplaced at the incipient stage of the ELIP. Liberation of poisonous gases and mercury by the sills explains why the mid-Capitanian global biota crisis preceded the peak ELIP eruption by 2-3 million years.