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Late Holocene Changes in Precipitation and Hydrography Recorded in Marine Sediments from the Northeastern Caribbean Sea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Johan Nyberg
Department of Earth Sciences-Marine Geology, Göteborg University, Box 460, Göteborg, SE-405 30, Sweden
Antoon Kuijpers
Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Thoravej 8, Copenhagen NV, DK-2400, Denmark
Björn A. Malmgren
Department of Earth Sciences-Marine Geology, Göteborg University, Box 460, Göteborg, SE-405 30, Sweden
Helmar Kunzendorf
Risø National Laboratory, Box 49, Roskilde, DK-4000, Denmark


We present a record of climate variability spanning the last 2000 years obtained from sediment cores retrieved south and west of Puerto Rico in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The records include lithological and mineral magnetic parameters as well as planktonic foraminifer data. For chronostratigraphic control, AMS 14C and 210Pb/137Cs measurements were made. Harmonic analysis of the values of the mineral magnetic parameters “saturation isothermal remanent magnetization” (SIRM), “anhysteric remanent magnetization divided by magnetic susceptibility” (ARM/χ), and “saturation isothermal remanent magnetization divided by magnetic susceptibility” (SIRM/χ) indicate the existence of a ∼200-year-long climate cycle in the northeastern Caribbean during the last 2000 years. The detected cycle may reflect changes in precipitation patterns over the low-latitude North Atlantic Ocean and surrounding continental areas. Higher organic carbon contents appear in the sediments both off southern and western Puerto Rico before and at the onset of the Little Ice Age around A.D. 1300 to 1500. This is indicative of increased run off and/or enhanced surface productivity possibly associated with more intense wind-induced upwelling. Major changes in the geochemical and mineral magnetic records around A.D. 850–1000 concur with changes in other records from the Caribbean and North African regions indicating a shift toward a more humid climate over the low-latitude North Atlantic.

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University of Washington

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