Wildfires in the Early Triassic of Northeastern Pangaea: Evidence from Fossil Charcoal in the Bogda Mountains, Northwestern China


Fires are an integral part of modern and ancient ecosystems, serving as friends for renewal or foes for complete destruction and extinction. Indicators of palaeowildfire were so far absent from the Lower Triassic. Lack of plants in the Early Triassic due to the end-Permian mass extinction event and low atmospheric oxygen levels were proposed as the major reasons for the scarcity of wildfires. We present macroscopic charcoals from the Olenekian (Lower Triassic) in northwestern China, indicating probable ground/smoldering fires occurred on landscapes in mid-latitudes of northeastern Pangaea. Atmospheric oxygen concentration during the Olenekian would have been above 18.5%. These findings demonstrate that wildfires continued to be a source of disturbance of terrestrial ecosystems in Bogda Mountains after the end-Permian marine biotic crisis. There were adequate supplies of fuels and oxygen during this critical time period in the Earth history.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Charcoal; Extinction; Oxygen Level; Palaeoecology; Wood

Geographic Coverage

Northwestern China

Time Period

Lower Triassic

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2021 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2021