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A 350 ka history of the Indian Southwest Monsoon—evidence from deep-sea cores, northwest Arabian Sea

  • Graham B. Shimmield (a1), Stephen R. Mowbray (a1) and Graham P. Weedon (a2)


The Indian summer Southwest Monsoon plays an important part in influencing, and regulating, the productivity and sedimentation in the northwest Arabian Sea at the present day, by driving coastal upwelling. This leaves permanent sedimentological and geochemical records in the accumulating deep-sea sediments. Cores 722B and 724C were raised from the Owen Ridge and Oman Margin, respectively, during Leg 117 of the Ocean Drilling Program and have been subjected to geochemical analyses and α-spectrometry. A comparative core, CD17–30, situated on the adjacent Indus Fan abyssal plain, has also been studied. The chronostratigraphy of the cores has been established with δ 18O stratigraphy, giving a 350 ka climate record. Changes in the total sediment mass accumulation rates occur on glacial/interglacial time scales, with maximum fluxes occurring during glacial episodes. The high fluxes are predominantly due to wind-transported dust at the ridge and margin sites. Compositional parameters (e.g. the Ti/Al ratio) indicating the proportion of heavy minerals present within the dust, suggests that strong winds associated with the Southwest Monsoon, occur with Milankovitch periodicities, and are dominated by the precession (23 ka) frequency. The wind strength controls the proportion of heavy minerals transported to the Arabian Sea, whilst continental aridity influences the timing of deflation from the Arabian and Somalian peninsulas. Tracers of palaeoproductivity (Ba/Al) indicate strong coherence and phase with the proxy ice volume (foraminiferal δ 18O) signal, suggesting global climate parameters (ice volume, continental aridity) determine coastal productivity by influencing nutrient supply. In relation to productivity, the roles of oceanic circulation/stratification and nutrient supply through continental runoff are discussed. This study shows that the Southwest Monsoon appears to only affect the shorter period (precession cycle, 23 ka band) productivity signal. Evidence from excess 230Th suggests deep oceanic circulation (at about 2000 m depth) was more intense 110 ka BP decreasing toward 40 ka BP. By the use of these various geochemical tracers a new, and comprehensive, view of the interaction of the Monsoon and global climate with marine productivity through the late Pleistocene has been obtained.



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A 350 ka history of the Indian Southwest Monsoon—evidence from deep-sea cores, northwest Arabian Sea

  • Graham B. Shimmield (a1), Stephen R. Mowbray (a1) and Graham P. Weedon (a2)


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