Late Glacial–Holocene record of benthic foraminiferal morphogroups from the eastern Arabian Sea OMZ: Paleoenvironmental implications

  • K Verma
  • S K Bharti
  • A D Singh


The Arabian Sea is characterized today by a well-developed and perennial oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) at mid-water depths. The Indian margin where the OMZ impinges provides sediment records ideal to study past changes in the OMZ intensity and its vertical extent in response to the changes of monsoon-driven primary productivity and intermediate water ventilation. Benthic foraminifera, depending upon their adaptation capabilities to variation in sea floor environment and microhabitat preferences, develop various functional morphologies that can be potentially used in paleoenvironmental reconstruction. In this study, we analysed benthic foraminiferal morphogroups in assemblage records of the last 30 ka in a sediment core collected from the lower OMZ of the Indian margin (off Goa). In total, nine morphogroups within two broadly classified epifaunal and infaunal microhabitat categories are identified. The abundance of morphogroups varies significantly during the late Glacial, Deglacial and Holocene. It appears that monsoon wind driven organic matter flux, and water column ventilation governing the OMZ intensity and sea-bottom oxygen condition, have profound influence on structuring the benthic foraminiferal morphogroups. We found a few morphogroups showing major changes in their abundances during the periods corresponding to the northern hemisphere climatic events. Benthic foraminifera with planoconvex tests are abundant during the cold Heinrich events, when the sea bottom was oxygenated due to a better ventilated, weak OMZ; whereas, those having tapered/cylindrical tests dominate during the last glacial maximum and the Holocene between 5 and 8 ka BP, when the OMZ was intensified and poorly ventilated, leading to oxygen-depleted benthic environment. Characteristically, increased abundance of taxa with milioline tests during the Heinrich 1 further suggests enhanced ventilation attributed probably to the influence of oxygen-rich Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW).


Paleontology benthic foraminifera oxygen minimum zone Arabian Sea 



This work was supported by the grants from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO-GBP) and the Department of Science and Technology (Project no. SR/S4/ES-30/2002), Government of India, New Delhi. KV thanks the University Grants Commission, New Delhi for the BSR UGC-RFSMS Fellowship. We thank two anonymous referees for their constructive reviews that have helped to improve the manuscript.


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© Indian Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center of Advanced Study in GeologyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia
  2. 2.Paleontology Div. I CHQGeological Survey of IndiaKolkataIndia

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