Millennial surface water dynamics in the Ria de Vigo during the last 3000 years as revealed by coccoliths and molecular biomarkers

Alvarez, M. C.; Flores, J. A.; Sierro, F. J.; Diz, P.; Frances, G.; Pelejero, C.; Grimalt, J.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
A combined study of coccolith assemblages and biomarkers in a gravity core collected from the Ria de Vigo (NW Spain) allowed us to reconstruct the paleoenvironmental conditions for the last 3000 years. The quantitative distribution of coccolithophore species points to three different intervals within the core, dated by AMS radiocarbon measurements. The first interval (ca. 975 BC-252 AD), characterized by high abundances of Calcidiscus leptoporus and Gephyrocapsa muellerae, is thought to represent moderate water temperatures, suggesting a transition from a warmer to a cooler period. The second interval (ca. 252-1368 AD), characterized by the dominance of Coccolithus pelagicus, Helicosphaera carteri and Syracosphaera spp., and a high concentration of hexacosanol linked to terrestrial input, is interpreted as having been a humid period with fluvial input. The third interval (ca. 1368 AD-1950) is characterized by a high abundance of Gephyrocapsa oceanica, high alkenone values and low values of hexacosanol, and is thought to represent a period dominated by oceanic conditions within the Ria.Taking into account the ocean-atmospheric system affecting the region studied, here we propose an alternation in the mean state of North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) at millennial time scales. A well-developed upwelling system and an active Ria-ocean connection during the warmer interval I suggest a NAO+ phase influenced by a Hypsithermal period. The occurrence of the humid and relatively warm interval II is consistent with a negative phase in the NAO, as well as a relative restriction in ocean-Ria exchange. Interval III, which was drier and more productive, again suggests the dominance of a positive phase in the NAO, with a more intense oceanic connection and more energized upwelling.
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