Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-mtzzk Total loading time: 0.354 Render date: 2022-06-27T19:12:36.791Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Freshwater Diatom Influx in Intertropical Atlantic: Relationships with Continental Records from Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Françoise Gasse
Laboratoire d'Hydrologie et de Géochimie Isotopique, Bâtiment 504, Université Paris-Sud, 91405, Orsay Cedex, France
Bjørg Stabell
Department of Geology, Oslo University, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, N-0316 Oslo 3, Norway Geological-Paleontological Institute, University of Kiel, Olshausenstrasse 40, D-2300 Kiel, West Germany
Elizabeth Fourtanier
Laboratoire d'Hydrologie et de Géochimie Isotopique, Bâtiment 504, Université Paris-Sud, 91405, Orsay Cedex, France
Yolanda van Iperen
Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Postbox 59, 1790 Ab Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands


Diatom assemblages from modern West African rivers and from lacustrine sediments subjected to deflation represent the present-day sources of continental diatoms to the sea. Diatom productivity in large rivers is high, especially for the genus Melosira. Windblown diatoms derive mainly from the central and northern Sahara (summer dust plume) where saline chloride-water assemblages are widespread, or from the southern edge of the Sahara (winter dust plume) where Melosira-rich assemblages of dilute water predominate. Freshwater diatom peaks in Atlantic cores may reflect (1) phases of increased river influx, correlated with humid episodes on the continent or (2) phases of enhanced deflation and wind transport during arid episodes (the single hypothesis for fine sediments from mid-ocean sites). Genus Melosira dominates the freshwater assemblages of many modern and fossil marine samples, whatever the transport agent is. Therefore, it is not an accurate paleoclimate indicator by itself, but associated taxa may provide information on the environmental and geographical origin of the displaced diatoms. This tentative approach shows that freshwater diatoms in Atlantic cores may be a good tool for reconstructing paleoclimates and for establishing continent-ocean correlations if species analyses are made and if the continental distribution of the taxa encountered is considered.

Research Article
University of Washington

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Barde, M.F., (1981). Les diatomées des sédiments actuels et du Pléistocène supérieur de l'Atlantique nord-oriental: Intérêt hydrologique et climatique Bulletin Institut de Géologie du Bassin d'Aquitaine 29, 85111 Google Scholar
Baudrimont, R., (1974). Recherches sur les diatomées des eaux continentales d'Algérie Mémoire de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle d'Afrique du Nord 12,Google Scholar
Benzecri, J.P. Benzecri, F., (1984). L'analyse des données Dunod Paris Google Scholar
Causse, C. Conrad, G. Fontes, J.Ch. Gasse, F. Gibert, E. Kassir, A., (1988). Le dernier “humide” pléistocène du Sahara nord-occidental daterait de 80–100000 ans Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Paris 306, 14591464 Google Scholar
Causse, C. Csque, R. Fontes, J.C. Gasse, F. Gibert, E. Ben Ouezdou, H. Zouari, K., (1989). Two high levels of continental waters in southern Tunisia chotts at 100 and 150 ka Geology in press 2.3.CO;2>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cornet, C. Gasse, F., (1988). Late Quaternary diatom assemblages from central and northern Niger, a sector intermediate between the Sahara and the Sahel Xth International Symposium on Diatoms 27-08–02-09 1988, Huhmari, Finland 24 Abstract Google Scholar
Darwin, C., (1846). An account of the fine dust which often falls on vessels in the Atlantic Ocean The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 2, Longman London 1 Proceedings of the Geological Society CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delibrias, G. Giresse, P. Lanfranchi, R. Le Cocq, A., (1983). Datations des dépôts holorganiques quaternaires sur la bordure occidentale de la cuvette congolaise (R. P. du Congo); corrélations avec les sédiments marins voisins Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Paris 296, 463466 Google Scholar
Ehrenberg, C.G., (1847). Passatstaub und Blutregen Abhandlungen K. Preuss. Akademie der Wissenschaften 269460 Google Scholar
Foged, N., (1966). Freshwater diatoms from Ghana Biologiske Skrifter-Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab 15, 1 1169 Google Scholar
Folger, D.W., (1970). Wind transport of land-derived mineral, biogenic, and industrial matter over the North Atlantic Deep-Sea Research 17, 337352 Google Scholar
Folger, D.W. Burkle, L.B. Heezen, B.C., (1967). Opal Phytoliths in a North Atlantic dust fall Science 155, 12431244 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fontes, J.Ch. Gasse, F., (1987). et al. Programme Palhydaf. Etat d'avancement, janvier 1987 Géodynamique 2, 2 139142 Google Scholar
Fourtanier, E., (1987). Diatomées néogènes d'Afrique. Approche biostratigraphique en milieux marin (Sud-Ouest africain) et continental Unpubl. Thesis Université P. and M. Curie Paris Google Scholar
Fourtanier, E. Gasse, F., (1988). First records on lacustrine diatom biostratigraphy and evolution since 11 millions years Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Paris 306, 14011406 Google Scholar
Gasse, F., (1980). Les diatomées lacustres pliopléistocènes du Gadeb (Ethiopie). Systématique, paléoécologie, biostratigraphie Revue Algologique 3, Mémoire H.S. Google Scholar
Gasse, F. Diatoms from East Africa: Taxonomy, Ecological Distribution Vol. 11, (1986.. Cramer Stuttgart Bibliotheca Diatomologica Google Scholar
Gasse, F., (1987). Diatoms for reconstructing palaeoenvironments and palaeohydrology in tropical semiarid zones: Example of some lakes from Niger since 12,000 BP Hydrobiologia 154, 127163 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gasse, F. Fontes, J.Ch. Plaziat, J.C. Carbonel, P. Kaczmarska, I. De Deckker, P. Soulié-Marsche, I. Callot, Y. Dupeuble, P.A., (1987). Biological remains, geochemistry and stable isotopes for the reconstruction of environmental and hydrological changes in the Holocene lakes from North Sahara Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 60, 146 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gasse, F. Talling, J.F. Kilham, P., (1983). Diatom assemblages in East Africa: Classification, distribution and ecology Revue d'Hydrobiologie Tropicale 16, 334 Google Scholar
Gaven, C. Hillaire-Marcel, C. Petit-Maire, N., (1981). A Pleistocene lacustrine episode in southeastern Libya Nature (London) 290, 131133 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giresse, P. Bongo-Passi, G. Delibrias, G. Duplessy, J.C., (1982). La lithostratigraphie des sédiments hémipélagiques du delta profond du fleuve Congo et ses indications sur les paléoclimats de la fin du Quaternaire Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France (7) 24, 4 803815 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hugot, G., (1977). Un secteur du quaternaire lacustre mauritanien: Tichitt (Aouker) Mémoires de l'Institut Mauritanien de la Recherche Scientifique Imprimeries réunies de Chambéry, Chambéry Google Scholar
Jansen, J.H.F. van Weering, T.C.E. Gieles, R. van Iperen, J., (1984). Middle and late Quaternary oceanography and climatology of the Zaire-Congo fan and adjacent eastern Angola basin Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 17, 2–4 201249 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kalu, A.E., (1979). The African dust plume: Its characteristics and propagation across West Africa in winter Morales, C. Saharan Dust, Mobilization, Transport, Deposition Wiley Chichester 95118 Google Scholar
Kinga-Mouezou, Transport particulaire actuel du fleuve Congo et de quelques affluents, enregistrement quaternaire dans l'éventail détritique profond (sédimentologie, minéralogie et géochimie) Unpubl. thesis (1986). University of Perpignan Google Scholar
Kolbe, R.W., (1955). Sediment cores from the North Atlantic Ocean Reports of Swedish Deep-Sea Expendition, 1947–1948 7, 151184 Google Scholar
Kuipjers, A. Troelstra, S.R. Verbeek, J.W. Wensink, H. De Wolf, H., (1984). Paleoceanic conditions in the Canary Basin, Eastern North Atlantic, since 1.4 M.A. B.P.: Evidence from the deep-water sedimentary record Mededelingen Rijks Geologishe Dienst 38, 2 215230 Google Scholar
Kutzbach, J.E. Street-Perrott, F.A., (1985). Milankovitch forcing of fluctuations in the level of tropical lakes from 18 to 0 kyr B.P. Nature (London) 317, 130134 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Legendre, L. Legendre, P., (1984). Ecologie numérique Masson Paris Google Scholar
Maley, J., (1987). Fragmentation de la forêt dense humide africaine et extension des biotopes montagnards au Quaternaire récent: Nouvelles données polliniques et chronologiques. Implications paléoclimatiques et biogéographiques Palaeoecology of Africa 18, 307334 Google Scholar
Maynard, N.C., (1976). Relationship between diatoms in surface sediments of the Atlantic Ocean and the biological and physical oceanography of overlying waters Paleobiology 2, 99121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Melia, M.B., (1984). The distribution and relationship between palynomorphs in aerosols and deep-sea sediments off the coast of Northwest Africa Marine Geology 58, 345371 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mikkelsen, N., (1984). Diatoms in the Zaïre deep-sea fan and Pleistocene palaeoclimatic trends in the Angola basin and West Equatorial Africa Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 17, 2–4 280292 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moguedet, G. Bongo-Passi, G. Giresse, P. Schwartz, M. Corrélations entre sédiments quaternaires continentaux et marins au Congo Revue de Géologie Dynamique et de Géographie Physique 27, 2 (1986.). 131140 Google Scholar
Nicholson, S.E., (1982). Pleistocene and Holocene climates in Africa Nature (London) 296, 779780 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Parmenter, C. Folger, D.W., (1984). Eolian biogenic detritus in deep sea sediments: A possible index of equatorial Ice Age aridity Science 185, 695698 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pastouret, L. Chamley, H. Delibrias, G. Duplessy, J.C. Thiede, J., (1978). Late Quaternary climatic changes in Western Tropical Africa deduced from deep-sea sedimentation off the Niger delta Oceanologica Acta 1, 2 217232 Google Scholar
Petit-Maire, N. Riser, J., (1983). Sahara ou Sahel? Lamy Marseille Google Scholar
Pokras, E.M., (1987). Diatom record of Late Quaternary climatic changes in the eastern equatorial Atlantic and tropical Africa Paleoceanography 2, 3 273286 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pokras, E.M. Mix, A.C., (1985). Eolian evidence for spatial variability of late quaternary climates in Tropical Africa Quaternary Research 24, 137149 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Prospero, J.M., (1981). Arid regions as sources for mineral aerosols in the marine environment Desert Dust: Origin, Characteristics, and Effect of Man Péwé, T.L. Geological Society of America Special Paper 186, 7186 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sarthein, M. Erlenkeuser, H. Zahn, R., (1982). Termination I: The response of continental climate in the subtropics as recorded in deep-sea sediments Bulletin Institut Géologique du Bassin d'Aquitaine 31, 393407 Google Scholar
Sarthein, M. Tetzlaff, G. Koopman, B. Wolter, K. Pflaumann, U., (1981). Glacial and interglacial wind regimes over the eastern subtropical Atlantic and north-west Africa Nature (London) 293, 193196 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schrader, H.-J., (1977). Diatoms in DSDP Leg 41 Sites Lancelot, Y. Seybold, E. et al. Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project Vol. 41, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC 791812 Google Scholar
Servant-Vildary, S., (1978). Etudes des diatomées et paléolimnologie du bassin Tchadien au Cénozoique supérieur Travaux et Documents de l'O.R.S.T.O.M. 84, O.R.S.T.O.M Paris 2 vols,Google Scholar
Seyve, C. Fourtanier, E., (1985). Microfloristic content of a modern aeolian sediment Bulletin Centres Recherches Exploration-Production. Elf-Aquitaine 9, 1 137154 Google Scholar
Sinada, F. Abdel Karim, A.G., (1984). A quantitative study of the phytoplankton in the Blue and White Niles at Khartoum Hydrobiologia 110, 4755 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stabell, B. Variations of diatom flux in the eastern equatorial Atlantic during the last 400,000 years (“Meteor” cores 13519 and 13521) Marine Geology 72, (1986.). 305323 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Street-Perrott, F.A. Harrison, S.P., (1985). Lake levels and climate reconstruction Hecht, A.D. Paleoclimate and Modeling Wiley New York 290340 Google Scholar
Street-Perrott, F.A. Roberts, N., (1983). Fluctuations in closed-basin lakes as an indicator of past atmospheric circulation pattern Street-Perrott, F.A. Beran, M. Ratcliffe, R.A.S. Variations in the Global Water Budget Reidel Dordrecht 331345 Google Scholar
Talbot, M.R. Kelts, K. Primary and diagenetic carbonates in the anoxic sediments of Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana Geology 14, 11 (1986.). 912916 2.0.CO;2>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Talling, J.F., (1980). Some problems of aquatic environments in Egypt from a general viewpoint of Nile ecology Water Supply and Management 4, 1320 Google Scholar
van Iperen, J.M. Van Weering, T.C.E. Jansen, J.H.F. van Bennekom, A.J., (1987). Diatoms in surface sediments of the Zaire Deep-Sea Fan (SE Atlantic Ocean) and their relation to overlying water masses Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 21, 3 203217 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Freshwater Diatom Influx in Intertropical Atlantic: Relationships with Continental Records from Africa
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Freshwater Diatom Influx in Intertropical Atlantic: Relationships with Continental Records from Africa
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Freshwater Diatom Influx in Intertropical Atlantic: Relationships with Continental Records from Africa
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *