Radiocarbon Content of Intermediate Waters off West Sumatra During the Last 45,000 Years

Monday, 15 December 2014
Ricardo De Pol-Holz, University of Concepcion, Concepcion, Chile, Mahyar Mohtadi, MARUM - University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany and John Richard Southon, Univ California, Irvine, CA, United States
Radiocarbon content of intermediate waters originating from the Southern Ocean is held as a likely smoking gun of the events that triggered the atmospheric CO2 rise and its radiocarbon decline during the last glacial-interglacial transition. Late Glacial depleted radiocarbon water masses have been found at intermediate depths off the coast of Baja California, the Galapagos, the Arabian Sea, but not unequivocally elsewhere. Knowing the route of the old water is therefore central for the required mechanistic linkage of Southern Ocean processes and the atmospheric response. A common approach to search for the old water reservoir is the radiocarbon difference between planktonic and benthic foraminifera or 'apparent ventilation age'. Caveats of this approach are due to the fact that it relies strongly on the knowledge of the surface water reservoir age. In this study, we present a high-resolution radiocarbon difference between surface and intermediate depth waters off west Sumatra in the attempt to elucidate a possible route of the old water from its hypothetical source in the high latitudes near Antarctica on its way to the lower latitude sites where it has been observed. Samples come from core SO189-39KL (0°47'S, 99°55'E, 517 m), a 1350 cm hemipelagic sedimentary sequence that spans the last 45,000 years. Radiocarbon determinations were made at centennial time resolution on both planktonic and benthic species. Calibration of the planktonic radiocarbon as age control points allowed us to infer the Δ14C of the intermediate waters. Our results show that throughout the LGM and the entire deglaciation, radiocarbon content of intermediate depths in the area remained with an almost constant age difference with the contemporaneous atmosphere. Unless we have grossly underestimated the local planktonic reservoir age, our results discard this area as a probable route for the spreading of the old water along its way to northern latitudes. In light of recent evidence from the west Pacific that pinpoints an old water mass at 1500-3500 m depth range, our results and our previous ones from the Chilean margin indicate that there was not observable mixing with shallower intermediate depth waters of the southern hemisphere, and that it appearance in northern hemisphere intermediate records reflect mixing processes occurring locally.