Grain Size Biasing of 230Th-derived Focusing Factors in the Panama Basin
Friday, 19 December 2014
In this study, we attempt to understand how differing grain size classes in Panama Basin sediments may create biasing of 230Th as a constant-flux proxy. Greater amounts of 230Th are contained in fine grained particles, which, if fractionated from coarser grained counterparts may lead to biasing of 230Th-derived mass accumulation rates (MARs) and sediment focusing factors. We examined sediments that span the past 25 kyr from four new sediment cores retrieved from two different localities close to the ridges that bound the Panama Basin. Each locality contained paired sites that were seismically interpreted to have undergone sediment redistribution, i.e., thick focused sites versus thin winnowed sites. Two sediment cores were retrieved from the northern part of the Panama basin, Cocos Ridge, (MV1014-01-“4JC”, 5° 44.7’N 85° 45.5’ W, 1730 m depth; MV1014-01-“8JC”, 6° 14.0’N 86° 2.6’ W, 1993 m depth), and two were retrieved from the southern part of the basin, Carnegie Ridge, (MV1014-02-“11JC”, 0° 41.6’S 85° 20.0’ W, 2452 m depth; MV1014-02-“17JC” 0° 10.8’S 85° 52.0’ W, 2846 m depth). Cores 4JC and 11JC lie closer to the ridge tops of the Cocos and Carnegie Ridges, respectively, and have thin sediment drapes, while deeper cores, 8JC (Cocos) and 17JC (Carnegie), have thicker sediment drapes and lie downslope from the ridge top cores. Age-model-derived sand MARs, which likely represent the vertical rain of particles that cannot be transported by bottom currents, are similar at each of the paired sites in Holocene and glacial time slices. However, 230Th-normalized MARs are about 50% lower, on average at each of the paired sites during the same time slices. Both Holocene and glacial samples from “thin” cores (4,11JC) contain, surprisingly, significant amounts (up to 50%) of the 230Th within the coarse grained (>63 μm) fraction which makes up 40-70% of the bulk samples analyzed. On the contrary, Holocene and glacial samples from “thick” cores, (8,17JC), contain the greatest amounts of 230Th (up to 49%) in the finest grain-sized fraction (<4μm), which makes up 26-40% of the bulk samples analyzed. Although, redistribution of sediment has taken place, our analysis indicates that 230Th-derived focusing factors are being overestimated at thick sites and underestimated at thin sites.