Geochemistry of sediment cores of the Southern Ocean


We examine the possibility that glacial increase in the areal extent of reducing sediments might have changed the oceanic Cd inventory, thereby decoupling Cd from PO4. We suggest that the precipitation of Cd-sulfide in suboxic sediments is the single largest sink in the oceanic Cd budget and that the accumulation of authigenic Cd and U is tightly coupled to the organic carbon flux into the seafloor. Sediments from the Subantarctic Ocean and the Cape Basin (South Atlantic), where oxic conditions currently prevail, show high accumulation rates of authigenic Cd and U during glacial intervals associated with increased accumulation of organic carbon. These elemental enrichments attest to more reducing conditions in glacial sediments in response to an increased flux of organic carbon. A third core, overlain by Circumpolar Deep Water (CPDW) as are the other two cores but located south of the Antarctic Polar Front, shows an approximately inverse pattern to the Subantarctic record. The contrasting patterns to the north and south of the Antarctic Polar Front suggest that higher accumulation rates of Cd and U in Subantarctic sediments were driven primarily by increased productivity. This proposal is consistent with the hypothesis of glacial stage northward migration of the Antarctic Polar Front and its associated belt of high siliceous productivity. However, the increase in authigenic Cd and U glacial accumulation rates is higher than expected simply from a northward shift of the polar fronts, suggesting greater partitioning of organic carbon into the sediments during glacial intervals. Lower oxygen content of CPDW and higher organic carbon to biogenic silica rain rate ratio during glacial stages are possible causes. Higher glacial productivity in the Cape Basin record very likely reflects enhanced coastal up-welling in response to increased wind speeds. We suggest that higher productivity might have doubled the areal extent of suboxic sediments during the last glacial maximum. However, our calculations suggest low sensitivity of seawater Cd concentrations to glacial doubling of the extent of reducing sediments. The model suggests that during the last 250 kyr seawater Cd concentrations fluctuated only slightly, between high levels (about 0.66 nmol/kg) on glacial initiations and reaching lowest values (about 0.57 nmol/kg) during glacial maxima. The estimated 5% lower Cd content at the last glacial maximum relative to modern levels (0.60 nmol/kg) cannot explain the discordance between Cd and delta13C, such as observed in the Southern Ocean. This low sensitivity is consistent with foraminiferal data, suggesting minimal change in the glacial Cd mean oceanic content.

Supplement to: Rosenthal, Yair; Boyle, Edward A; Labeyrie, Laurent D; Oppo, Delia W (1995): Glacial enrichments of authigenic Cd and U in Subantarctic sediments: A climatic control on the elements' oceanic budget? Paleoceanography, 10(3), 395-414

Related Identifier
Metadata Access
Creator Rosenthal, Yair ORCID logo; Boyle, Edward A; Labeyrie, Laurent D; Oppo, Delia W ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 1995
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported;
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Supplementary Publication Series of Datasets; Collection
Format application/zip
Size 8 datasets
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (11.307W, -51.040S, 90.111E, -25.490N); South Indian Ocean; South Pacific
Temporal Coverage Begin 1970-10-10T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 1988-02-01T00:00:00Z