Oxygen isotope and sapropel stratigraphy in the Eastern Mediterranean during the last 3.2 million years
Lourens, L J
Robertson, Alastair H F
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Stable oxygen isotope data from four holes drilled at the Ocean Drilling Program Site 967, which is located on the lower northern slope of the Eratosthenes Seamount, provide a continuous record of Eastern Mediterranean surface-water conditions during the last 3.2 Ma. A high-resolution stratigraphy for the Pliocene–Pleistocene sequence was established by using a combination of astronomical calibration of sedimentary cycles, nannofossil stratigraphy, and stable oxygen isotope fluctuations. Sapropels and color cycles are present throughout the last 3.2 Ma at Site 967, and their ages, as determined by calibration against the precessional component of the astronomical record, are consistent with those estimated for the sapropels of the classical land-based marine sequences of the Punta Piccola, San Nicola, Singa, and Vrica sections (southern Italy). The Site 967 oxygen isotope record shows large amplitude fluctuations mainly caused by variations in surface water salinity throughout the entire period. Spectral analysis shows that fluctuations in the d18O record were predominantly influenced by orbital obliquity and precessional forcing from 3.2 to 1 Ma, and all main orbital frequencies characterize the d18O record for the last million years. The start of sapropel formation at 3.2 Ma indicates a possible link between sapropel formation and the build up of northern hemisphere ice sheets. The dominance of the obliquity cycle in the interval from 3.2-1 Ma further points to the sensitivity of Eastern Mediterranean climate to the fluctuations in the volume of Arctic ice sheets. An intensification of negative isotope anomalies at Site 967, relative to the open ocean, supports a link between high run-off (during warm periods) and sapropel formation. freshwater input would have inhibited deep-water formation, which led to stagnation of deeper waters. Comparison with the land sections also confirms that differential preservation and diagenesis play a key role in sapropel occurrence.