Opal burial in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean over the last 30 ka: Implications for glacial-interglacial changes in the ocean silicon cycle

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Dec 19
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The Silicic Acid Leakage Hypothesis (SALH) suggests that, during glacial periods, excess silicic acid was transported from the Southern Ocean to lower latitudes, which favored diatom production over coccolithophorid production and caused a drawdown of atmospheric CO2. Downcore records of Th-230-normalized opal fluxes and Pa-231/230 Th ratios from seven equatorial Atlantic cores were used to reconstruct diatom productivity over the past 30 ka (where a is years) and to test the SALH. Downcore records of Pa-231/Th-230 ratios and opal fluxes are highly correlated, suggesting that they constitute a production-based record of opal flux. Opal flux records support the SALH in that glacial opal burial exceeded Holocene burial by 1.8 Gt opal/ka in the area 0 degrees-40 degrees W and 5 degrees N-5 degrees S. Earlier results from the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean showed the opposite trend, with greater Holocene than glacial opal burial, but approximately the same magnitude of difference between glacial and interglacial opal burial. We suggest four (nonexclusive) scenarios to explain the data from both basins: (1) Increased upwelling in the equatorial Atlantic and El Ni (n) over tildeo-like conditions suppressing upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific altered the overall nutrient supply to both basins; (2) Si leaked from the Southern Ocean because of Fe fertilization, but was prevented from upwelling in the equatorial Pacific because of El Ni (n) over tildeo-like conditions during the LGM; (3) Si leaked from the Southern Ocean because diatom productivity was limited by increased sea ice extent and was again prevented from upwelling in the equatorial Pacific; or (4) changes in ocean circulation related to the decreased input of Agulhas water to the glacial South Atlantic provided excess dissolved Si to the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. A deglacial opal pulse is seen in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. All four scenarios and the presence of the common deglacial opal pulse suggest a common driver in the Southern Ocean.


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Doi 10.1029/2007pa001443