Methods of Isotopic Mass Spectrometry for Analysis of the Permian – Triassic Extinction Event

Literature Seminar abstract

A particular time frame of interest to geochemists is the period from the Late Permian to the Early Triassic, as that time frame includes the End-Permian extinction event that occurred around 252 million years ago, the largest known mass extinction event in earth’s history. However, the exact cause of this extinction is still unknown, with some possible contributing sources being volcanic activity, ocean anoxia, and rising temperatures. Isotopic mass spectrometry is commonly used in geochemistry to analyze environmental conditions, date samples, and can indicate ecological expansion or collapse, thus it has been used to some degree to analyze this event. 1-3

There are a few issues with isotopic mass spectroscopy. One of the main issues with this method is the complexity of rock samples and the difficulty of analyzing them. Another issue is that the variety of mass spectrometers and standards used can make it difficult to draw significant conclusions across differing papers. Here, I will show that while these methods can be useful in analyzing the ancient environment of a specific area, it is hard to draw large overarching conclusions about an event without extensive worldwide research, and using other methods in conjunction with isotopic mass spectroscopy.


(1)           Grice, K.; Cao, C. Q.; Love, G. D.; Bottcher, M. E.; Twitchett, R. J.; Grosjean, E.; Summons, R. E.; Turgeon, S. C.; Dunning, W.;Jin, Y. G. Science 2005, 5710, 706-709.

(2)           Georgiev, S.; Stein, H. J.; Hannah, J. L.; Bingen, B.; Weiss, H. M.; Piasecki, S. Earth. Planet. Sci. Let. 2011, 3-4, 389-400.

(3)           Xiang, L.; Schoepfer, S. D.; Zhang, H.; Yuan, D. X.; Cao, C. Q.; Zheng, Q. F.; Henderson, C. M.; Shen, S. Z. Paleogeogr. Paleoclimatol. Paleoecol.  2016, 448, 59-71.



Division(s): Analytical

Speaker: Alison Haase

Speaker Institution: Colorado State University

Event Date: 08-30-2017

Event Time: 4:00 PM

Event Location: Chemistry A101

Mixer Time: 3:45 PM

Mixer Location: Chemistry B101E

Host: D. Crans