Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 479–491 | Cite as

Carbon-Isotope Excursions Recorded in the Cambrian System, South China: Implications for Mass Extinctions and Sea-Level Fluctuations

  • Jingxun Zuo
  • Shanchi Peng
  • Yuping Qi
  • Xuejian Zhu
  • Gabriella Bagnoli
  • Huaibin Fang


Cambrian carbonates with abundant fossils of agnostoid trilobites deposited on the southern slope (Jiangnan slope belt) of the Yangtze Platform and in the Jiangnan deepwater basin are well exposed in the Wangcun Section of western Hunan, South China, and in the Duibian A Section of western Zhejiang, southeastern China, respectively. To better understand the response of carbon-isotope excursions to depositional environment changes, mass extinctions and eustatic events, we collected 530 carbonate samples in fresh roadcut exposures of the two measured sections for analysis of carbon and oxygen isotopic compositions. Data of δ13C from the Wangcun Section, western Hunan, South China, demonstrate that the Cambrian carbon-isotope profile includes three remarkable positive excursions CPE wc -1, 2, 3 in the Upper Series 2, in the Lower and in the Middle Furongian Series. Three distinctive negative excursions CNE wc -1, 2, 3 were separately tested in the Lower Terreneuvian Series, Lower Series 3 and in the Upper Furongian Series. Similarly, in the corresponding horizons in the Duibian A Section, Zhejiang Province, southeastern China, three positive excursions CPE db -1, 2, 3 and three negative excursions CNE db -1, 2, 3 also have been discovered. We interpret these significant carbon-isotope excursions as being associated with enhanced biogenic productivity, mass extinctions and eustatic events.

Key words

carbon-isotope excursion mass extinction sea-level change Cambrian South China 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41672028, 41672002, 41330101, 41221001). The authors would like to thank Prof. Laishi Zhao from the State Key Lab of Geological Process and Mineral Resources of China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Professor Xinggong Kong from the Laboratory of Stable Isotope Analysis of the Nanjing Normal University is acknowledged for the help in processing and analyzing the samples. The final publication is available at Springer via

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Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Henan Institute of Geological SurveyZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and PaleontologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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