Glacial-interglacial variations in sediment organic carbon accumulation and benthic foraminiferal assemblages on the Bermuda Rise (ODP Site 1063) during MIS 13 to 10

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Geography and Geology


We have determined organic carbon concentrations and isotopic compositions and benthic foraminiferal assemblages in sediments deposited between similar to 500 and 340 ka at ODP Site 1063 on the northeastern flank of the Bermuda Rise. This time interval includes Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 11, a particularly warm and long interglacial that was similar to today, and MIS 12, one of the most severe glacials of the last 600 kyr. During MIS 11.3, the peak of interglacial warming, organic carbon accumulation rates are low and benthic foraminiferal assemblages are dominated by Nuttallides umbonifera, a species indicative of oligotrophic environments. Higher accumulation rates during MIS 12 and 10 correspond with elevated sedimentation rates (33-36 cm/kyr). This pattern implies a combination of enhanced delivery and improved preservation of sediment organic matter during these glacial times. Organic delta C-13 values are less negative during MIS 12 and MIS 10 than during MIS 11, which is consistent with greater glacial-stage marine productivity. High relative abundances of Oridorsalis umbonatus during glacial intervals probably records a low but sustained flux of highly degraded organic material. Large, recurrent fluctuations in the abundance of Epistominella exigua at the beginnings of the MIS 12 and MIS 10 glaciations suggest a marked increase in local phytoplankton blooms at these times and consequent delivery of phytodetritus to the seafloor. The most likely causes of these variations are changes in the position and strength of the Gulf Stream and its associated cold-ring eddies, combined with increased advection of terrigenous sediments from northerly locations during glacial lowstands.

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