THE deposition rate of deep-sea sediments, and their focused redeposition by deep-sea currents, can be evaluated from analyses of sedimentary Th-230 with a temporal resolution limited only by bioturbation(6,7,10,11). Th-230 is produced uniformly throughout the ocean by radioactive decay of dissolved U-234 and is removed sufficiently fast by sorption onto sinking particles to act as a 'constant-flux' tracer of sedimentation rates. But the half-life of Th-230 (75 kyr) limits its use for this purpose to the past 200-250 kyr. Here we explore the use of extraterrestrial He-3 from interplanetary dust particles(1-4) (IDPs) as a constant-flux proxy that is free from this limitation. A comparison of He-3 with Th-230 in two cores from the equatorial Pacific Ocean indicates that the variability in the mean flux of IDPs over the past 200 kyr is less than 75%. But in contrast to this relatively constant rate of supply of He-3 to the deep sea, the local burial rates of He-3 and Th-230 have varied by a factor of five over the past 450 and 200 kyr, respectively. We interpret this variability as reflecting sediment focusing, with a temporal pattern that suggests regular cycles of climate-driven reorganization of near-bottom currents in the deep Pacific Ocean.
Vn918Times Cited:54Cited References Count:26