The CaCO3 content of marine sediments in many regions of the ocean has varied systematically with climate throughout the late-Pleistocene glacial cycles. Both biological productivity and carbonate preservation have been proposed to be the master variable regulating this variability. We have evaluated the preserved flux of CaCO3 in cores from the central equatorial Pacific Ocean (similar to 140 degrees W) using the Th-230-normalization technique. Neither barite fluxes nor Be-10/Th-230 ratios, both geochemical proxies for export production, correlate with CaCO3 fluxes, indicating that productivity is not the principal factor controlling CaCO3 accumulation in these sediments. Preserved fluxes of CaCO3 in central equatorial Pacific sediments correlate in time with the benchmark CaCO3 record from the Cape Basin (South Atlantic Ocean), supporting the view that changes in ocean chemistry (carbonate ion concentration) have controlled the pattern of CaCO3 preservation and accumulation at these sites. Modem CaCO3 preservation in equatorial Pacific sediments has dropped to levels nearly as low as those experienced at any time in the late Pleistocene. Similar changes occurred at the end of each of the late-Pleistocene interglacial periods, from which we infer that ocean carbonate chemistry has already undergone changes that are expected to precede the transition into the next ice age. However, during the late Pleistocene, the time interval between the decrease in CaCO3 preservation and the end of the interglacial has varied substantially from one interglacial to another (from similar to 2000 to similar to 15,000 years), so the late-Holocene decrease in CaCO3 preservation cannot be used to predict the end of the Holocene interglacial period. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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