Holocene Climatic Optimum centennial-scale paleoceanography in the NE Aegean (Mediterranean Sea)

Abstract

Combined micropaleontological and geochemical analyses of the high-sedimentation gravity core M-4G provided new centennial-scale paleoceanographic data for sapropel S1 deposition in the NE Aegean Sea during the Holocene Climatic Optimum. Sapropel layer S1a (10.2–8.0 ka) was deposited in dysoxic to oxic bottom waters characterized by a high abundance of benthic foraminiferal species tolerating surface sediment and/or pore water oxygen depletion (e.g., Chilostomella mediterranensis, Globobulimina affinis), and the presence of Uvigerina mediterranea, which thrives in oxic mesotrophic-eutrophic environments. Preservation of organic matter (OM) is inferred based on high organic carbon as well as loliolide and isololiolide contents, while the biomarker record and the abundances of eutrophic planktonic foraminifera document enhanced productivity. High inputs of terrigenous OM are attributed to north Aegean borderland riverine inputs. Both alkenone-based sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and δO18 G. bulloides records indicate cooling at 8.2 ka (S1a) and ~7.8 ka (S1 interruption). Sapropelic layer S1b (7.7–6.4 ka) is characterized by rather oxic conditions; abundances of foraminiferal species tolerant to oxygen depletion are very low compared with the U. mediterranea rise. Strongly fluctuating SSTs demonstrate repeated cooling and associated dense water formation, with a major event at 7.4 ka followed by cold spells at 7.0, 6.8, and 6.5 ka. The prominent rise of the carbon preference index within the S1b layer indicates the delivery of less degraded terrestrial OM. The increase of algal biomarkers, labile OM-feeding foraminifera and eutrophic planktonic species pinpoints an enhanced in situ marine productivity, promoted by more efficient vertical convection due to repeated cold events. The associated contributions of labile marine OM along with fresher terrestrial OM inputs after ~7.7 ka imply sources alternative/additional to the north Aegean riverine borderland sources for the influx of organic matter in the south Limnos Basin, plausibly related to the inflow of highly productive Marmara/Black Sea waters.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the EU Marine ERA/MedEcos and EU/FP7 Perseus projects. We acknowledge constructive assessments by E. Malinverno and the journal editors.

Conflict of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest with third parties.

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Correspondence to Maria V. Triantaphyllou.

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Triantaphyllou, M.V., Gogou, A., Dimiza, M.D. et al. Holocene Climatic Optimum centennial-scale paleoceanography in the NE Aegean (Mediterranean Sea). Geo-Mar Lett 36, 51–66 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00367-015-0426-2

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Keywords

  • Benthic Foraminifera
  • Planktonic Foraminifera
  • Carbon Preference Index
  • Holocene Climatic Optimum
  • Online Electronic Supplementary Material