The Carnian (237-229 Ma): The Dawn of the Modern World

The Carnian (237-229 Ma): The Dawn of the Modern World


Dr. Doris Meyerdierks (Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg)  


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jacopo Dal Corso, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China, and former HWK Junior Fellow 


  • Prof. Dr. Mike Benton, PhD (University of Bristol, UK) 
  • Dr. Massimo Bernardi, PhD (MUSE Trento, Italy) 
  • Prof. Dr. Piero Gianolla, PhD (University of Ferrara, Italy) 
  • Dr. Sönke Hohn (Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen, Germany) 
  • Dr. Evelyn Kustatscher (Museum of Nature South Tyrol, Bozen, Italy) 
  • Prof. Dr. Andrea Marzoli (University of Padova, Italy) 
  • Prof. Agostino Merico (Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Bremen, Germany) 
  • Prof. Dr. Robert J. Newton (University of Leeds, UK) 
  • Prof. Dr. Nereo Preto (University of Padova, Italy) 
  • Dr. Alastair Ruffell (Queens University Belfast, UK) 
  • Prof. Dr. Alexander Schmidt (University of Göttingen, Germany) 
  • Dr. Leyla Seyfullah (University of Göttingen, Germany) 
  • Prof. Dr. Paul B. Wignall (University of Leeds, UK)  
  • Dr. Yadong Sun (GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Erlangen, Germany) 


2018 – 2021 


The Carnian Pluvial Episode (CPE) is an important, yet poorly understood phase of global climate change of the early Late Triassic, a time of significant biological turnover events. The CPE occurs in correspondence to a sharp negative carbon isotope excursion. This suggests an injection of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere – ocean system that led to global warming (Dal Corso et al. 2012; Sun et al. 2016). The most likely ‘smoking gun’ for this negative carbon isotope excursion is the eruption of Wrangellia LIP basalts and associated volcanic CO2 emissions. Coincident to the C-cycle perturbation, abrupt environmental changes are observed in the geological record worldwide during this period.  

The Study Group brings together leading experts in palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, and geochemistry, coming from Germany, Italy, and United Kingdom. The aim of the Study Group is to establish and maintain a group of top scientists committed to the study of this peculiar and important time interval in Earth’s history, which is the Carnian. During this period important evolutionary innovations in the oceans and on land occurred, marking the origin of the modern ecosystems. Today anthropogenic carbon emissions and global warming are threatening these ecosystems and it is imperative to understand their resilience under a changing world. For this reason, understanding the conditions that drove the Carnian evolutionary innovation is crucial to understand the environmental thresholds within modern ecosystems will survive. 

Aims and outputs  

Main aim of the HWK Study Group is to establish a long-term structured, multidisciplinary, and international association of scientists dedicated to the study of the Carnian. At the time of this proposal submission, research on the Carnian is still relatively young. A workshop hosted at the HWK in May 2017 helped to highlight the many open questions on the complex phenomena that occurred during this time.  

The Study Group will be the core upon which to create a long-term synergy among leading experts in their respective fields to study climate and ecosystems of the Carnian. The multidisciplinary nature of the proposed Study Group will allow the identification of research sub-units that will focus on specific questions. Thanks to the meetings hosted at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg we will first disentangle the state-of-the-art in Carnian research and propose future research directions. At this early stage, a joint review paper is planned. A central activity of the Study Group will be to discuss funding strategies and write research proposals for future research development. The main goal is to submit, at the end of 3-year period, a proposal for a Synergy Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). Other complementary national/international funding possibilities will also be discussed. 


Kick-off: February 21-22, 2018 

May 28-29, 2019  


  1. Dal Corso, J., M. Bernardi, Y. Sun, H. Song, L.J. Seyfullah, N. Preto, P. Gianolla, A. Ruffell, E. Kustatscher, G. Roghi, A. Merico, S. Hohn, A.R. Schmidt, A. Marzoli, R.J. Newton, P.B. Wignall, and M.J. Benton (2020), Extinction and dawn of the modern world in the Carnian (Late Triassic). Science Advances 6 (38): eaba0099. DOI:  
  2. Dal Corso, J., Ruffell, A., and Preto, N. (2019), Carnian (Late Triassic) C-isotope excursions, environmental changes, and biotic turnover: a global perturbation of the Earth's surface system. Journal of the Geological Society 176 (1): 129-131. DOI: 
  3. Dal Corso, J., A. Ruffell, and N. Preto (2018), The Carnian pluvial episode (Late Triassic): new insights into this important time of global environmental and biological change. Journal of the Geological Society 175 (6): 986-988. DOI: