Processes controlling trace element geochemistry of Arabian Sea sediments during the last 25,000 years.

Sirocko, F., Garbe-Schönberg, C.-Dieter and Devey, Colin W. (2000) Processes controlling trace element geochemistry of Arabian Sea sediments during the last 25,000 years. Global and Planetary Change, 26 (1-3). pp. 217-303. DOI 10.1016/S0921-8181(00)00046-1.

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Thirty seven deep-sea sediment cores from the Arabian Sea were studied geochemically (49 major and trace elements) for four time slices during the Holocene and the last glacial, and in one high sedimentation rate core (century scale resolution) to detect tracers of past variations in the intensity of the atmospheric monsoon circulation and its hydrographic expression in the ocean surface.

This geochemical multi-tracer approach, coupled with additional information on the grain size composition of the clastic fraction, the bulk carbonate and biogenic opal contents makes it possible to characterize the sedimentological regime in detail. Sediments characterized by a specific elemental composition (enrichment) originated from the following sources: river suspensions from the Tapti and Narbada, draining the Indian Deccan traps (Ti, Sr); Indus sediments and dust from Rajasthan and Pakistan (Rb, Cs); dust from Iran and the Persian Gulf (Al, Cr); dust from central Arabia (Mg); dust from East Africa and the Red Sea (Zr/Hf, Ti/Al). Corg, Cd, Zn, Ba, Pb, U, and the HREE are associated with the intensity of upwelling in the western Arabian Sea, but only those patterns that are consistently reproduced by all of these elements can be directly linked with the intensity of the southwest monsoon. Relying on information from a single element can be misleading, as each element is affected by various other processes than upwelling intensity and nutrient content of surface water alone.

The application of the geochemical multi-tracer approach indicates that the intensity of the southwest monsoon was low during the LGM, declined to a minimum from 15,000–13,000 14C year BP, intensified slightly at the end of this interval, was almost stable during the Bölling, Alleröd and the Younger Dryas, but then intensified in two abrupt successions at the end of the Younger Dryas (9900 14C year BP) and especially in a second event during the early Holocene (8800 14C year BP). Dust discharge by northwesterly winds from Arabia exhibited a similar evolution, but followed an opposite course: high during the LGM with two primary sources—the central Arabian desert and the dry Persian Gulf region. Dust discharge from both regions reached a pronounced maximum at 15,000–13,000 14C year. At the end of this interval, however, the dust plumes from the Persian Gulf area ceased dramatically, whereas dust discharge from central Arabia decreased only slightly. Dust discharge from East Africa and the Red Sea increased synchronously with the two major events of southwest monsoon intensification as recorded in the nutrient content of surface waters.

In addition to the tracers of past dust flux and surface water nutrient content, the geochemical multi-tracer approach provides information on the history of deep sea ventilation (Mo, S), which was much lower during the last glacial maximum than during the Holocene.

The multi-tracer approach—i.e. a few sedimentological parameters plus a set of geochemical tracers widely available from various multi-element analysis techniques—is a highly applicable technique for studying the complex sedimentation patterns of an ocean basin, and, specifically in the case of the Arabian Sea, can even reveal the seasonal structure of climate change.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: trace elements; geochemistry; Arabian Sea; marine sediments; paleoclimate; monsoon; desert dust; upwelling; paleoceanography
Research affiliation: Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/S0921-8181(00)00046-1
ISSN: 0921-8181
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2008 17:24
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2017 11:43

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