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Identification of Density-Stratified Waters in the Late-Pleistocene North Atlantic: A faunal Derivation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Joseph J. Morley*
Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 10964 USA


An expanded study of the radiolarian Cycladophora davisiana in late-Pleistocene North Atlantic marine sediments shows that over the last several hundred thousand years this species exhibits large variations in relative abundance. The C. davisiana curves in the North Atlantic cores are quite similar, with easily recognizable features common to all records. Minor deviations from the general pattern of this species' abundance apparently reflect the response of C. davisiana to specific oceanographic conditions characteristic of a particular area within the North Atlantic. C. davisiana occurs today in high abundance (>20%) only in the Sea of Okhotsk. Extensive winter and early spring sea-ice cover coupled with low surface-water salinities during summer and fall is responsible for maintaining near-freezing subsurface temperatures in this northwest Pacific marginal sea as well as relatively stable temperatures and salinities at depths below a shallow subsurface temperature minimum. During periods in the late Pleistocene, high C. davisiana abundances (>20%) in the North Atlantic were probably associated with oceanographic properties similar to those that exist in the Sea of Okhotsk today. Because of the relationship between relatively stable subsurface temperatures and salinities and high abundance levels of C. davisiana, analysis of this species' abundance pattern at several locations throughout the high-latitude North Atlantic should assist in identifying source areas of deep-water formation and determining the duration of deep convective processes at these sites.

Original Articles
University of Washington

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