Abstracts on Global Climate Change

Nov 2006

Atypical delta N-15 variations at the southern boundary of the East Pacific oxygen minimum zone over the last 50 ka

Martinez, P Lamy, F Robinson, RR Pichevin, L Billy, I


We report a nitrogen isotope record (ODP Site 1233) from the southern Chile margin at 41 degrees S. The site is located slightly south of the southern boundary of the Peru-Chile upwelling system and the associated oxygen minimum zone off Peru and northern Chile. We show that our nitrogen isotope record, from the time interval 0-50 calendar kiloyears before present (ka B.P.), bears an atypical pattern both in shape and timing when compared with records obtained from either the continental margin of the eastern Pacific or the Subantarctic Zone (SAZ) of the Southern Ocean. The delta N-15 values at Site 1233 are relatively high throughout the record, varying between 9 parts per thousand. and 13 parts per thousand. The iriajor features are a pronounced delta N-15 increase at the beginning of the deglaciation, a maximum from 19 to 10 ka B.P.; thereafter a large decrease during the early Holocene, and millenial scale oscillations showing an Antarctic timing. We propose that the record results from an amalgam of low-latitude and high-latitude processes. Low-latitude processes, including a stronger advection signal of heavy nitrates from the denitrifying zones off Peru and northern Chile, would explain the timing of the deglaciation rise and the heaviest values found over this interval, excluding the Antarctic Cold Reversal period. The overall differences between site 1233 and records from Peru and northwest American margins suggest however that the origin of the delta N-15 signal off Chile is largely controlled by hydrologic and climatic changes in the Southern Ocean. We propose that the interplay between nutrient demand in the SAZ and latitudinal shifts of hydrologic fronts controlled both the concentrations and the isotopic signature of the remaining nitrate delivered to the Chile margin. Then, the glacial surface waters of the southern Chile margin were likely lower in nitrate concentration and bear a higher delta N-15 than during interglacial periods. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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