Primary productivity variability on the Atlantic Iberian Margin over the last 70,000 years: evidence from coccolithophores and fossil organic compounds

Alessandro Incarbona, Enrico Di Stefano, Joan O. Grimalt, Giorgio Tranchida, Belen Martrat, Bernardo Patti, Nicola Pelosi

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Abstract

This study analyzes coccolithophore abundance fluctuations (e.g., Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa specimens, and Florisphaera profunda) in core MD01-2444 sediment strata retrieved at the Iberian Margin, northeastern Atlantic Ocean. Coccolithophores are calcareous nannofossils, a major component of the oceanic phytoplankton, which provide information about past ecological and climatological variability. Results are supported by data on fossil organic compounds (sea surface temperatures, alkenones, and n-hexacosan-1-ol index) and geochemical analyses (benthic ?13Ccc and planktonic ?18Occ isotopes). Three scenarios are taken into account for this location at centennial-scale resolution over the last 70,000 years: the Holocene and the stadial and interstadial modes. The different alternatives are described by means of elements such as nutrients; upwelling phenomena; temperatures at surface and subsurface level; or the arrival of surface turbid, fresh, and cold waters due to icebergs, low sea level, increased aridity, and dust. During the Holocene, moderate primary productivity was observed (mainly concentrated in E. huxleyi specimens); surface temperatures were at maxima while the water column was highly ventilated by northern-sourced polar deep waters and warmer subsurface, nutrient-poor subtropical waters. Over most of the last glacial stadials, surface productivity weakened (higher F. profunda and reworked specimen percentages and lower diunsaturated and triunsaturated C37 alkenones); the arrival of cold Arctic surface waters traced by tetraunsaturated C37 peaks and large E. huxleyi, together with powerful ventilated southern-sourced polar deep waters, disturbed, in all likelihood, the delicate vertical equilibrium while preventing significant upwelling mixing. Finally, during the last glacial interstadials (lower F. profunda percentages, nonreworked material, and higher diunsaturated and triunsaturated C37 alkenones) a combined signal is observed: warm surface temperatures were concurrent with generally low oxygenation of the deep-sea floor, moderate arrival of northern-sourced deep waters, and subsurface cold, nutrient-rich, recently upwelled waters, probably of polar origin; these particular conditions may have promoted vertical mixing while enhancing surface primary productivity (mainly of Gephyrocapsa specimens).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPALEOCEANOGRAPHY
Volume25
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology

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