Seasonal climatic fluctuations in the Late Triassic tropics—High-resolution oxygen isotope records from aragonitic bivalve shells (Cassian Formation, Northern Italy)
Three megalodontoid bivalves from the Upper Triassic Cassian Formation (N Italy, Dolomites) were sampled for Î´13C and Î´18O sclerochronology (n = 270). With more than 1000 described invertebrate species, the Cassian Formation has one of the best records of an Early Mesozoic tropical fauna. In addition, the Cassian Formation is one of the very few Triassic occurrences with original aragonite preservation, with all studied shells consisting of pristine aragonite. The presence of aragonite and crossed lamellar as well as fibrous prismatic shell microstructures shown for the first time for Triassic megalodontoids suggests absence or minimal impact of diagenetic alteration. The Î´13C values range from 3.6 to 5.8‰ and show a distinct cyclicity in two studied shells whereas a third shell shows no obvious cyclicity. In one bivalve specimen, the cycles are somewhat offset from Î´18O cycles and in the other specimen Î´18O and Î´13C curves are inversely correlated. Seasonal variation in freshwater runoff including nutrient input and subsequent changes in plankton productivity during dry and wet seasons may explain Î´13C cyclicity. Î´18O values show a pronounced cyclicity within each of the studied shells varying from − 3.6 to − 1.4‰. The variations in Î´18O suggest a pronounced seasonality in Late Triassic tropical shallow waters of the western Tethys, with inferred seasonal temperature changes ranging from 24 to 32 °C. Influx of fresh water during the rainy seasons (mega-monsoon) or upwelling might also explain part of the variation in Î´18O. The presented data suggest that the diverse Cassian fauna lived under conditions characterized by warm sea-surface waters with a pronounced seasonality. Similar conditions are reported for some modern tropical settings.