Weathering fluxes to the Gulf of Mexico from the Pliocene to Holocene based on radiogenic isotopes
Abstract:Chemical weathering of the continents plays a key role in the global carbon cycle and delivers solutes to the ocean. Past studies, documented using radiogenic isotopes of detrital and seawater samples, show the intensity of weathering varies with climate over a range of time scales.. We analyzed Pb and Nd isotopic values of seawater extracted from dispersed Fe-Mn oxides, <2µm (clay) and <63µm (silt) detrital fractions of Pliocene to Holocene sediment from Gulf of Mexico ODP Site 625B to evaluate long term variations in weathering fluxes for three time slices: the Pliocene/early Pleistocene, Mid Pleistocene Transition (MPT), and late Pleistocene/Holocene. We also examine short term glacial/interglacial variations.
Little variation is seen in Nd isotopes of detrital fractions with age, suggesting little change in the average age of material delivered to the Gulf. Seawater Nd values become less radiogenic over the Pleistocene, consistent with observed changes in Caribbean seawater. Pb isotopes of silt fractions are also relatively constant through time, but clay fractions are more radiogenic at the MPT and dispersed Fe-Mn oxides trend to more radiogenic values in the late Pleistocene. Consequently, the Pb isotopes of dispersed Fe-Mn oxides tend to be less radiogenic than the detrital fractions in samples older than 2000 ka and more radiogenic than the detrital fractions, particularly clays, at the MPT. This may reflect greater incongruent silicate weathering during the MPT, a change in weathering conditions that could be consistent with the Regolith Hypothesis.
Over glacial/interglacial timescales, dispersed Fe-Mn oxides Pb isotopes become more radiogenic than detrital fractions, and clay fractions become more radiogenic than silt fractions, during glacial periods. However, all fractions have similar values during interglacials. This pattern is distinct from previous studies that found enhanced incongruent silicate weathering during warm intervals, but is consistent with recent work finding a correlation with carbonate content, whereby low carbonate during glacials at Site 625 corresponds to a greater offset between leachate and detrital Pb isotopes. Biases from “heavy mineral effects” and changes in circulation during periods of lower sea level also need to be considered.