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The onset of the major glaciation of the LPIA: record from South China

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Abstract

The beginning of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age was characterized by localized events with small ice depocenters occurring in South America and a series of cyclic shallow-water limestones in far-field regions, in late Visean to Serpukhovian. This paper documents two topmost Visean–Serpukhovian sections in Guangxi, South China: a stromatolite-bearing deep-water succession in Helv village and a shallow-water succession in Dujie village. Seventeen microfacies types have been recognized and grouped into six microfacies associations. The vertical evolution of the microfacies associations from deep-water to shallow-water depositional environments in both sections indicate a major relative sea-level fall in the latest Visean. The repetitive successions comprising different morphological stromatolites in Helv section and the cyclic alternation of subtidal and peritidal facies in Dujie section imply high-frequency sea-level fluctuations during latest Visean to Serpukhovian, most likely eustatic in origin. The carbon isotope data of Dujie limestone exhibit a pronounced positive δ13C excursion with ± 4.3‰ in the peritidal deposits. This shift is interpreted as the result of enhanced organic carbon burial in other regions and depletion of the ocean in light carbon. The widespread coeval cyclicity occurring in settings in South China, Western Europe, and North America is most likely the results of glacio-eustatic sea-level fluctuations, possibly with local influences of tectonic movements. This pattern is interpreted to represent the expression of the onset of the major glaciation during the LPIA in low-latitudinal successions.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Christopher R. Fielding and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments which contribute to improve the initial version of the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant number 41572004) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant number 200021_160019).

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Correspondence to Enpu Gong.

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Huang, W., Maillet, M., Zhang, Y. et al. The onset of the major glaciation of the LPIA: record from South China. Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) 109, 281–300 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-019-01802-x

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Keywords

  • Late Paleozoic ice age
  • Cyclic deposits
  • Sea-level fluctuation
  • Far-field regions
  • South China