Equatorial Pacific Productivity Events and Intervals in the Middle and late Miocene through XRF-Scanned Bulk Sediment Composition Data
Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:25 PM
The equatorial Pacific is the largest open ocean productivity center, responsible for nearly half of global marine new production and about 40% of CaCO3 burial. Understanding how the equatorial Pacific upwelling system has evolved over the Neogene is critical to understand the evolution of the global carbon cycle. We know from reconnaissance studies that productivity in equatorial Pacific surface waters as well as dissolution driven by deep waters have strongly affected the sediment record. We have used calibrated XRF scanning to capture anomalies in equatorial Pacific upwelling and productivity at Milankovitch-resolving resolution since the early Miocene. The 8 elements calibrated in the XRF scans can be used to distinguish intervals of high carbonate dissolution from those of high productivity. Carbonate dissolution intervals are recorded by a drop of CaCO3 relative to Aeolian clays, with little change in the ratio between estimated opal and clay (estimated by TiO2). In contrast, high production intervals have high opal/TiO2 and low CaCO3. Low CaCO3 contents are caused partly by dilution, since high production skews tropical particulate rain to be more opal-rich relative to carbonate, and additional C-org rain can help to increase CaCO3 dissolution within near-surface sediments. We observe long-lived high production anomalies modulated by orbitally-driven climate variability. Prominent intervals are found at the end of the Miocene climate optimum (~ 14 Ma), interspersed with dissolution intervals in the Carbonate Crash interval (~9-11 Ma), and in the Biogenic Bloom interval (8-4.5 Ma). Using relationships among biogenic fluxes in modern equatorial sediment trap studies, especially the positive correlations between biogenic Ba , C-org, and CaCO3 fluxes, we find that the highest production intervals have much higher opal/C-org in the particulate rain, implying an inefficient carbon pump to the deep ocean. If confirmed, productivity was not as strong a feedback to atmospheric CO2 in the Miocene as it is in the Holocene.