Pollen and grain size records in abyssal sediments of the northwest Pacific Ocean as proxies of Plio-Pleistocene climate change /
Little, Martin Lewis.
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A distinctive period of global change occurred during the PUocene between the warm Miocene and subsequent Quaternary cooling. Samples from Ocean Drilling Project Site 11 79 (-5586 mbsl, 41°4'N, 159°57'E), Site 881 (-5765 mbsl, 47°6.133'N, 161°29.490'E) and Site 882 (-3255 mbsl, 50°22'N, 167°36'E) were studied to determine the magnitude and composition ofterrigenous flux to the western mid-latitude North Pacific and its relation to climate change in East Asia since the mid-Pliocene. Dust-sized particles (including pollen), sourced from the arid regions and loess plateaus in East Asia are entrained by prevailing westerly winds and transported to the midlatitude northwest North Pacific Ocean. This is recorded by peaks in the total concentration of pollen and spores, as well as the mean grain size of allochthonous and autochthonous silicate material in abyssal marine sediments. Aridification of the Asian interior due to the phased uplift of the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau created the modem East Asian Monsoon system dominated by a strengthening of the winter monsoon. The winter monsoon is further enhanced during glacials due to the expansion of desert and steppe environments at the expense ofwoodlands and forests recorded by the composition of palynological assemblages. The late Pliocene-Pleistocene glacials at ODP Sites 1 179, 881, and 882 are characterized by increases in grain size, magnetic susceptibility, pollen and spore concentrations around 3.5-3.3, 2.6-2.4, 1.7-1.6, and 0.9-0.7 Ma (ages based on magnetostratigraphic and biostratigraphic datums). The peaks during these times are relatively rich in pollen taxa derived primarily from steppe and boreal vegetation zones, recording cool, dry climates. The overall size increase of sediment and abundance of terrestrial palynomorphs record enhanced wind strength. The increase in magnitude of pollen and spore concentrations as well as grain size record global cooling and Northern Hemisphere glaciation. The peaks in grain size as well as pollen and spore abundance in marine sediments correlate with the mean grain size of loess in East Asia, consistent with the deflation of unarmoured surfaces during glacials. The transport of limiting nutrients to marine environments enhanced sea surface productivity and increased the rate of sediment accumulation.