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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Françoise Gasse
Affiliation:
Laboratoire d'Hydrologie et de Géochimie Isotopique, Bâtiment 504, Université Paris-Sud, 91405, Orsay Cedex, France
Bjørg Stabell
Affiliation:
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
Affiliation:
Laboratoire d'Hydrologie et de Géochimie Isotopique, Bâtiment 504, Université Paris-Sud, 91405, Orsay Cedex, France
Yolanda van Iperen
Affiliation:
Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Postbox 59, 1790 Ab Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands

Abstract

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.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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