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Distribution of large Emiliania huxleyi in the Central and Northeast Atlantic as a tracer of surface ocean dynamics during the last 25,000 years
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2010 (English)In: Marine Micropaleontology, ISSN 0377-8398, E-ISSN 1872-6186, Vol. 76, no 3-4, 53-66 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The coccolithophore species Emiliania huxleyi is characterized by a wide range of sizes. which can be easily distinguished in the light microscope. In this study we have quantified the abundance of large (coccoliths >4 mu m in maximum length) E. huxleyi specimens during the last 25 kyr in sedimentary records from eleven cores and drill sites in the NE Atlantic and W Mediterranean Sea, to prove its usefulness in the reconstruction of water mass dynamics and biostratigraphic potential. During the Last Glacial Maximum this large form, a cold-water indicator, was common in the NE Atlantic and Mediterranean, and its regional variation in abundance indicates a displacement of the climatic zones southwards in agreement with the development of ice sheets and sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere during this period. On the other hand, the gradient between northern and southern surface water masses in the Subtropical Gyre appears to have been more pronounced than at present, while the Portugal and Canary Currents were more intense. In the western Mediterranean basin temperatures were cooler than in the adjacent Atlantic, provoking a quasi-endemism of these specimens until the end of Heinrich Event 1. This may have been due to a restriction in the communication between the Atlantic and Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar, the arrival of cold surface water and the amplification of cooling after the development of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. During the deglaciation, large E. huxleyi specimens decreased in abundance at medium and low latitudes, but were still numerous close to the Subarctic region during the Holocene. In transitional waters this decrease to present day abundances occurred after Termination lb. The abrupt change in abundance of this large E. huxleyi form is proposed as a new biostratigraphic event to characterize the Holocene in mid- to low-latitude water masses in the North Atlantic, although this horizon seems to be diachronous by 5 kyr from tropical to subarctic regions, in agreement with the gradual onset of warm conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 76, no 3-4, 53-66 p.
Keyword [en]
coccolithophores, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Quaternary, Holocene, biogeography, paleoceanography, Last Glacial Maximum, deglaciation, biostratigraphy
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-134351DOI: 10.1016/j.marmicro.2010.05.001ISI: 000282469400001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-134351DiVA: diva2:372368
Available from: 2010-11-25 Created: 2010-11-24 Last updated: 2015-05-26

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Henderiks, Jorijntje
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