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Deep-Sea Coral Evidence for Rapid Change in Ventilation of the Deep North Atlantic

Summary: Deep-Sea Coral Evidence for Rapid Change
in Ventilation of the Deep North Atlantic
15,400 Years Ago
Jess F. Adkins,* Hai Cheng, Edward A. Boyle,
Ellen R. M. Druffel, R. Lawrence Edwards
Coupled radiocarbon and thorium-230 dates from benthic coral species reveal that the
ventilation rate of the North Atlantic upper deep water varied greatly during the last
deglaciation. Radiocarbon ages in several corals of the same age, 15.41 0.17 thousand
years, and nearly the same depth, 1800 meters, in the western North Atlantic Ocean
increased by as much as 670 years during the 30- to 160-year life spans of the samples.
Cadmium/calcium ratios in one coral imply that the nutrient content of these deep waters
also increased. Our data show that the deep ocean changed on decadal-centennial time
scales during rapid changes in the surface ocean and the atmosphere.
Records from Greenland ice cores have
revealed that the glacial polar climate shift-
ed extremely rapidly several times. From
18,000 to 40,000 years ago (ka), glacial
climates were periodically punctuated by
rapid returns to milder conditions, called
interstadials, that lasted for hundreds of


Source: Adkins, Jess F. - Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology; Geosciences