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Title: Investigating the circulation of Southern Ocean deep water masses over the last 1.5 million years by geochemical fingerprinting of marine sediments
Author: Williams, Thomas
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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The Southern Ocean (SO) is a critical component in the global ocean conveyor. As the only conduit linking the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as an important region of upwelling and water mass formation, it is thought to have played a key role in modulating Earth’s past climate. Changes in the circulation of SO deep and bottom waters over the last 1.5 million years are investigated using stable carbon isotope $δ^{13}C$ measurements made on the tests of the benthic foraminfer Cibicidoides ($δ^{13}C_{b}$), and the rare earth element concentrations and Neodymium isotope ($ɛ_{Nd}$) values of marine sediments and their authigenic ferromanganese coatings. Being a proxy for past seawater nutrient contents, $δ^{13}C_{b}$ provides important insights into both past ocean circulation and the potential storage of remineralised organic carbon within the deep ocean, while simultaneously providing information on the past ventilation state of the deep ocean interior. As seawater $ɛ_{Nd}$ remains unaffected by biological fractionation or air-sea exchange processes, reconstructions of past deep and bottom water $ɛ_{Nd}$ provides a tool with which to study past changes in the circulation and mixing of these water masses. A suite of previously published late Holocene (0-6 ka) and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; 18-24 ka) $δ^{13}C_{b}$ data are used alongside newly acquired $δ^{13}C_{b}$ data from the Amundsen Sea in the eastern Pacific sector of the SO to investigate past changes in the pattern of circum-Antarctic seawater carbon isotope composition. The $δ^{13}C$ signature of deep and bottom waters was much more heterogenous during the LGM than the late Holocene, with negative $δ^{13}C$ excursions occurring within the Atlantic and Indian sectors of the SO below c. 2-3 km water depth. Some of this negative $δ^{13}C$ signal was advected through the SO to the Pacific sector, but this appears to have been restricted by bathymetric barriers within the SO. New $δ^{13}C_{b}$ data spanning the last 800 ka from the Amundsen Sea are presented and suggest differing modes of bottom water formation in the Atlantic vs Pacific sectors of the SO during glacial periods of the last 800 ka. An authigenic $ɛ_{Nd}$ record measured on sediments from a core located in the deep Indian Ocean is used to investigate the palaeocirculation history of modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) within the Indian Ocean during the last 1.5 million years. Shifts towards more radiogenic $ɛ_{Nd}$ values during glacial periods are interpreted as reflecting a decreased entrainment of deep waters sourced in the North Atlantic (Northern Component Water, NCW) within CDW, which led to a reduced advection of an unradiogenic $ɛ_{Nd}$ NCW signal to the core site. $ɛ_{Nd}$ and REE measurements made on sediments from two cores located on the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge in the western Pacific sector of the SO (to the north of the Ross Sea Embayment) are used to reconstruct the bottom water palaeocirculation in this region across the last 540 ka. The proportion and $ɛ_{Nd}$ signature of Ross Sea Bottom Water (RSBW) bathing these core sites has fluctuated throughout the last 540 ka. These fluctuations suggest the rate and location of bottom water formation within the Ross Sea, and the supply of terrigenous material with radiogenic $ɛ_{Nd}$ values with which to isotopically `labelled' RSBW, may have changed in the past.
Supervisor: Piotrowski, Alexander Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: palaeoclimate ; palaeoceanography ; Southern Ocean ; geochemistry