Biozone Characterization of Foraminifera in Upper Pleistocene through Recent Shelf and Slope Sediments, Northern Gulf of Alaska: Integration of SHE-diversity and Polytopic Vector Analyses

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Sarah Zellers, University of Central Missouri, SEPAS - Earth Science, Warrensburg, MO, United States, Ellen A Cowan, Appalachian State University, Geology, Boone, NC, United States and Maureen H Davies, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Gulf of Alaska sediments contain distinct, low-diversity assemblages of benthic and planktic foraminifera, whose distribution is a function of food availability, water mass properties, ice proximity, transport/deposition, predation, and taphonomic processes. Spatial and temporal changes in diversity reflect these processes and provide insight into this margin’s history. Two quantitative techniques are integrated to define and characterize benthic foraminferal biozones in Gulf of Alaska sediment core samples collected by the R/V Maurice Ewing in 2004 at shelf site EW0408-79JC (59.53° N, 141.76° W, 158 m depth), and slope site EW0408-85JC (59.56° N, 144.15° W, 682 m depth). Sediments date from the end of the most recent glaciation (diamict in 85JC) to the present (bioturbated, silty clay at both sites).

We apply SHE analysis, a graphical, iterative technique, based on diversity trends in a plot of ln E vs. ln N, where E is species evenness and N is cumulative number of specimens. In each step, the plot is examined for the first change in slope between successive samples, representing a change in diversity. At this point a boundary is defined, samples before the break are removed, and the analysis is repeated until all samples are analyzed. Data are further analyzed using an unmixing algorithm known as polytopic vector analyses. This technique defines a small number of orthogonal end members that explain a majority of the variance, thus reducing data complexity and aiding interpretation.

SHE-analysis of benthic foraminiferal data defines eighteen informal abundance biozones. Polytopic vector analyses indicate that the faunal assemblages reflect mixtures of up to seven distinct biofacies: outer neritic (2), upper bathyal (2), reduced oxygen (2), and inner neritic. Rapid changes in faunal diversity correspond with increased sedimentation rates, especially during the end of the most recent glaciation (17 to 16 ka). The same relationship occurs over the last 1000 years at the shelf site. Where the cores overlap in age, many more assemblage boundaries occur in the shelf core, suggesting a comparatively dynamic environment relative to the slope. The least amount of diversity change corresponds with the laminated intervals in 85JC, coincident with high productivity and development of anoxia during regional deglaciation.