The Carnian Pluvial Episode in Italy: history of the research and perspectives

Nereo Preto, Massimo Bernardi, Jacopo Dal Corso, Piero Gianolla, Evelyn Kustatscher, Guido Roghi, Manuel Rigo

The Carnian Pluvial Episode (CPE) was a perturbation of the Late Triassic climate that had a strong impact on marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The CPE is still a relatively neglected episode if compared to the other global ecosystem turnovers of the Mesozoic. Nevertheless, the CPE is synchronous with a major biological turnover, with both extinction among many marine and terrestrial groups and, remarkably, one of the most important evolutionary phases in the entire history of Life. The first significant radiation of dinosaurs, the spread of conifers and bennettitaleans, the first common occurrence of calcareous nannofossils, and the first reefs built by scleractinian corals all occurred during or soon after the CPE. Furthermore, the first common occurrence of amber dates to the CPE. Ammonoids and conodonts, the two most important groups for the biostratigraphy of the Triassic, were also subject to a significant turnover. Many localities in Italy had a primary role for the understanding of the CPE, and still represent benchmarks for new studies. Some of these localities are paradigmatic examples of the geological and biotic processes that were occurring during this interval of geologic time, and should be designated as geosites. While recent studies on the CPE focused on identifying the episode globally, and far from the best studied regions of Western Tethys and the European continent, the Italian CPE localities could still provide a wealth of information on this event, especially concerning the evolution of shallow marine and terrestrial groups. Indeed, the best deep-water record of the CPE (Pignola, Basilicata), the most expanded and complete shallow water successions (Raibl area, Friuli-Venezia Giulia), the most prolific amber sites and the best preserved reef associations (Dolomites, Veneto) all occur in Italy.


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