Underlying causes for long-term global ocean δ13C fluctuations over the last 1.20 Myr

B. A.A. Hoogakker, E. J. Rohling, M. R. Palmer, T. Tyrrell, R. G. Rothwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Pleistocene stable carbon isotope (δ13C) records from surface and deep dwelling foraminifera in all major ocean basins show two distinct long-term carbon isotope fluctuations since 1.00 Ma. The first started around 1.00 Ma and was characterised by a 0.35‰ decrease in δ13C values until 0.90 Ma, followed by an increase of 0.60‰ lasting until 0.50 Ma. The subsequent fluctuation started with a 0.40‰ decrease between 0.50 and 0.25 Ma, followed by an increase of 0.30‰ between 0.25 and 0.10 Ma. Here, we evaluate existing evidence and various hypotheses for these global Pleistocene δ13C fluctuations and present an interpretation, where the fluctuations most likely resulted from concomitant changes in the burial fluxes of organic and inorganic carbon due to ventilation changes and/or changes in the production and export ratio. Our model indicates that to satisfy the long-term 'stability' of the Pleistocene lysocline, the ratio between the amounts of change in the organic and inorganic carbon burial fluxes would have to be close to a 1:1 ratio, as deviations from this ratio would lead to sizable variations in the depth of the lysocline. It is then apparent that the mid-Pleistocene climate transition, which, apart from the glacial cycles, represents the most fundamental change in the Pleistocene climate, was likely not associated with a fundamental change in atmospheric pCO2. While recognising that high frequency glacial/interglacial cycles are associated with relatively large (100 ppmv) changes in pCO2, our model scenario (with burial changes close to a 1:1 ratio) produces a maximum long-term variability of only 20 ppmv over the fluctuation between 1.00 and 0.50 Ma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume248
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2006

Keywords

  • Joides Resolution
  • long-term carbon isotope fluctuations
  • mid-Brunhes event
  • mid-Pleistocene climate transition
  • modelling
  • Ocean Drilling Program
  • production- and export ratio
  • Site 1143
  • Site 502
  • Site 659
  • Site 758
  • Site 847
  • Site 849
  • Site 982
  • ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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