Volcanic phosphorus supply boosted Mesozoic terrestrial biotas in northern China

Chao Ma, Yanjie Tang*, Ross N. Mitchell, Yongfei Li, Shouliang Sun, Jichang Zhu, Stephen F. Foley, Min Wang, Chenyang Ye, Jifeng Ying, Rixiang Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The Mesozoic terrestrial Jehol Biota of northern China exceeds the biomass and biodiversity of contemporaneous Lagerstätten. From 135 to 120 Ma, biotic radiation may have responded to the peak destruction of the North China Craton. However, the direct mechanistic link between geological and biological evolution is unclear. Phosphorus (P), a bio-essential nutrient, can be supplied by weathering of volcanics in terrestrial ecosystems. The middle–late Mesozoic volcanic-sedimentary sequences of northern China are amazingly rich in terrestrial organisms. Here we demonstrate episodic increases in P delivery, biological productivity, and species abundance in these strata to reveal the coevolution of volcanism and terrestrial biotas. A massive P supply from the weathering of voluminous volcanic products of craton destruction thus supported a terrestrial environment conducive to the high prosperity of the Jehol Biota. During the nascent stage of craton destruction, such volcanic-biotic coupling can also account for the preceding Yanliao Biota with relatively fewer fossils.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1317-1326
    Number of pages10
    JournalScience Bulletin
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2023


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