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Deoxygenation dynamics on the western Nile deep-sea fan during sapropel S1 from seasonal to millennial timescales
Blanchet, C.L.; Tjallingii, R.; Schleicher, A.M.; Schouten, S.; Frank, M.; Brauer, A. (2021). Deoxygenation dynamics on the western Nile deep-sea fan during sapropel S1 from seasonal to millennial timescales. Clim. Past 17(3): 1025-1050.

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In: Climate of the Past. Copernicus: Göttingen. ISSN 1814-9324; e-ISSN 1814-9332, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Blanchet, C.L.
  • Tjallingii, R., meer
  • Schleicher, A.M.
  • Schouten, S., meer
  • Frank, M.
  • Brauer, A.

    Ocean deoxygenation is a rising threat to marine ecosystems and food resources under present climate warming conditions. Organic-rich sapropel layers deposited in the Mediterranean Sea provide a natural laboratory to study the processes that have controlled changes in seawater oxygen levels in the recent geological past. Our study is based on three sediment cores spanning the last 10 000 years and located on a bathymetric transect offshore from the western distributaries of the Nile delta. These cores are partly to continuously laminated in the sections recording sapropel S1, which is indicative of bottom-water anoxia above the western Nile deep-sea fan. We used a combination of microfacies analyses and inorganic and organic geochemical measurements to reconstruct changes in oxygenation conditions at seasonal to millennial timescales. Millimetre-thick laminations are composed of detrital, biogenic and chemogenic sublayers reflecting seasonal successions of sedimentation. Dark layers reflect the deposition of summer floods and two types of light layers correspond to autumn plankton blooms and authigenic carbonates formed in the water column during spring–early summer, respectively. The isotopic signature of the authigenic carbonates suggests permanent anoxic to euxinic bottom waters resulting in high levels of anaerobic remineralization of organic matter and highlights their potential to reconstruct seawater chemistry at times when benthic fauna was absent. Ratios of major elements combined with biomarkers of terrestrial and marine organic matter and redox-sensitive compounds allow changes in terrigenous input, primary productivity and past deoxygenation dynamics on millennial timescales to be tracked. Rapid fluctuations of oxygenation conditions in the upper 700 m water depth occurred above the Nile deep-sea fan between 10 and 6.5 ka BP, while deeper cores recorded more stable anoxic conditions. Synchronous changes in terrigenous input, primary productivity and past oxygenation dynamics after 6.5 ka BP show that runoff-driven eutrophication played a central role in rapid oxygenation changes in the south-eastern Levantine Basin. These findings are further supported by other regional records and reveal time-transgressive changes in oxygenation state driven by rapid changes in primary productivity during a period of long-term deep-water stagnation.

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