SCIENCE CHINA Earth Sciences, Volume 62, Issue 1: 189-222(2019) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-018-9278-0

Triassic integrative stratigraphy and timescale of China

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  • ReceivedJan 15, 2018
  • AcceptedAug 13, 2018
  • PublishedNov 22, 2018


The Triassic rocks are widespread in China, and both marine and terrestrial strata are well developed. The Triassic stratigraphic architecture of China is very complex in both spatial variation of the so-called “South Marine and North Continental”, i.e. the southern areas of China occupied mostly by marine facies while the northern China by terrestrial facies during the Triassic Period, and temporal transition of the “Lower Marine and Upper Continental”, i.e. the lower part of the Triassic System composed mainly of marine facies and the upper part of terrestrial strata especially in South China. Although the Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) of the Permian-Triassic boundary is located in South China, the Triassic of China except for some marine Lower-Middle Triassic depositions shows significantly local characteristics and is hardly correlated with the global chronostratigraphic chart. Consequently, the Triassic of China contains not only the international research hotspots but also difficult points in stratigraphic study. This paper aims to present a brief review of the Triassic in China, including chronostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy and chemostratigraphy, and summarize an integrated Triassic stratigraphic framework of China. Accordingly, a stratigraphic correlation is proposed for the lithostratigraphic sequences among the three tectono-paleogeographic stratigraphic regions. The comprehensive study indicates that ammonoids are the classic index fossils in Triassic biostratigraphy but conodonts are more advantageous in the study and definition of the Triassic chronostratigraphic boundaries. China still has the potential to optimize the GSSPs of the Induan-Olenekian boundary and Olenekian-Anisian boundary. The correlation of the Permian-Triassic boundary between marine and terrestrial facies might be achieved with the help of the Permian-Triassic “transitional bed” and its related biotic and environmental events in association with the biostratigraphic study of conchostracan, vertebrate and plant fossils. In addition, the carbon isotopes have been proved to be one of the powerful methods in marine Triassic stratigraphic study, whereas the oxygen and strontium isotopes may be additional important bridges to establish the correlation between the marine and terrestrial strata, but as yet lacking of relevant studies in terrestrial strata. Considering the most stratigraphic intervals of the Triassic and the terrestrial Triassic in China are difficult to be correlated to the global chart, the proposed Chinese (regional) Triassic chronostratigraphic chart of marine and terrestrial stages would be of importance to the study of Chinese Triassic stratigraphy and related aspects, but the stages must be conceptually in line with international standards and studied as soon as possible in order to finalize the definition.

Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant,Nos.,41530104,&,41661134047)


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41530104 & 41661134047).


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  • Figure 1

    Permian-Triassic boundary stratigraphy and event sequences at the Meishan Section, Changxing, Zhejiang Province. The conodont zones revised from Zhang et al. (2009) and Yuan et al. (2014); carbon isotopes cited from Cao et al. (2002); isotope dating values cited from Burgess et al. (2014).

  • Figure 2

    Terrestrial Permian-Triassic boundary stratigraphic sequences and correlation in China (revised from Chu Daoliang’s PhD dissertation, 2017). Conch. Conchostracan, Spor. Sporopollen, Ostrac. Ostracod.

  • Figure 3

    Stratigraphy and main bio-environmental events around the Induan-Olenekian boundary at the West Pingdingshan section, Chaohu, Anhui Province (revised from Tong et al., 2005a and Zhao et al., 2008).

  • Figure 4

    Triassic terrestrial vertebrate sequence and chronostratigraphic correlation (the global land vertebrate faunachrons and their markers cited from Lucas, 2010).

  • Figure 5

    Integrated Triassic magnetostratigraphic and chemostratigraphic sequences in China.

  • Figure 6

    Triassic lithostratigraphic sequences and their correlation among the stratigraphic regions in China (revised from Yang et al., 2000 and Tong, 2005).

  • Table 1   Table 1 Triassic chronostratigraphic sequences and stage boundary definitiona)

    * FAD, First Appearance Datum; FO, First Occurrence. ** In the Chinese marine and continental stages, the stage names in brackets refer to those previously used but currently abandoned because of their name duplication with some lithostratigraphic units. The age data of the Early and Middle Triassic stages are described in the text while the late Triassic ages refer to the International Chronostratigraphic Chart 2017/02 (see http://www.stratigraphy.org).

  • Table 2   Table 2 Integrated marine Triassic biostratigraphic sequences in Chinaa)

    Revised from Yang et al. (2000) and Chen et al. (2000) (refer to the text for the details). The zones numbered but unnamed indicate they exist in China but no characteristic fossils could be used for them at moment.

  • Table 3   Table 3 Integrated terrestrial Triassic biostratigraphic sequences in Chinaa)

    Revised from Yang et al. (2000) and Zhou et al. (2000) (refer to the text for the details).

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