Journal of Earth System Science

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 173-185

First online:

Paleoenvironmental significance of clay mineral assemblages in the southeastern Arabian Sea during last 30 kyr

  • SIDDHARTHA SANKAR DASAffiliated withDepartment of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of Allahabad Email author 
  • , AJAI K RAIAffiliated withDepartment of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of Allahabad
  • , VASEEM AKARAMAffiliated withDepartment of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of Allahabad
  • , DHANANJAI VERMAAffiliated withDepartment of Earth & Planetary Sciences, University of Allahabad
  • , A C PANDEYAffiliated withDepartment of Ocean & Atmospheric Studies, University of Allahabad
  • , KOUSHIK DUTTAAffiliated withInstitute of PhysicsUniversity of Minnesota
  • , G V RAVI PRASADAffiliated withInstitute of PhysicsUniversity of Georgia

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A gravity core SK-221 recovered from the southeastern Arabian Sea near Laccadive–Chagos Ridge was examined to identify the sources of detrital clay minerals and to decipher paleoenvironmental changes for the last 30 kyr. The clay mineral assemblages predominantly consist of illite, kaolinite and chlorite with small amounts of smectite. Quartz, feldspar and occasionally gibbsite are the clay-sized non-clay minerals present in the examined section. The detrital clay minerals primarily originated from the hinterland and were supplied to the present site by the numerous small rivers draining western India during preglacial and Holocene periods, and partly by the strong reworking of Indian continental shelf during glacial period. The low values of humidity proxies (kaolinite content, kaolinite to illite and smectite to illite ratios) and better illite crystallinity indicate relatively weak summer monsoon condition that resulted in reduced chemical weathering during glacial period, which was interrupted by a discrete event of winter monsoon intensification at ~20–17 ka. The increased kaolinite content, higher values of humidity indices and poorer illite crystallinity reflect high humidity that resulted in strong hydrolysis activity during the preglacial and Holocene periods. The increased CaCO3 during above periods also indicates less terrigenous dilution and intensified southwest monsoon-led upwelling which result in higher surface biogenic productivity. The characteristic clay mineral associations broadly suggest dry to semi-drier conditions during Heinrich Events H1, H2, and H3 and also during Younger Dryas. The low values of biogenic carbonate and organic carbon also indicate low productivity associated with weak summer monsoons during Heinrich Events. Abrupt increased humidity was recorded at 15–12.7 ka (Bølling/Allerød Event) sandwiched between two lows of Heinrich Events. Cycles of millennial timescale variations 2300, 1800, 1300 and 1000 yr have been observed from the clay mineralogical data. All the cycles observed in the monsoonal climate appear to be part of global oscillations.


Arabian Sea clay mineral Holocene monsoon western India