High resolution hematite and goethite records from ODP 1143, South China Sea: Co-evolution of monsoonal precipitation and El Nino over the past 600,000 years Academic Article uri icon


  • Precipitation has a larger variability than temperature in tropical monsoon regions, thus it is an important climate variable. However, reconstructions of long-term rainfall histories are scarce because of the lack of reliable proxies. Here we document that iron oxide minerals, specifically the ratio of hematite to goethite (Hm/Gt), is a reasonable precipitation proxy. Using diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry, we measured samples from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) 1143 drilling site (921.72N, 11317.11E, 2777m water depth) for hematite and goethite, whose formation processes are favored by opposing climate conditions. In order to determine the content of hematite and goethite we produced a set of calibration samples by removing the iron oxides to generate the natural matrix to which hematite and goethite in known percentages were added. From these calibration samples we developed a transfer function for determining hematite and goethite concentration from a sample's spectral reflectance. Applying this method to ODP 1143 sediments (top 34m of a 510m core with sampling interval of 10cm) we were able to reconstruct a continuous precipitation history for SE Asia of the past 600kyr using the Hm/Gt ratio as a proxy of the precipitation variability of Asian monsoon. The reliability of this Hm/Gt proxy is corroborated by its consistency with the stalagmite 18O data from South China. Comparing long-term Hm/Gt records with the surface temperature gradient of equatorial Pacific Ocean, we found that monsoon precipitation and El Nio are correlated for the last 600kyr. The development of El Nio-like conditions decreased SE Asia precipitation, whereas precipitation increases in response to La Nia intensification. 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y. G., Ji, J., Balsam, W. L., Liu, L., & Chen, J.

citation count

  • 94

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Yi Ge||Ji, Junfeng||Balsam, William L||Liu, Lianwen||Chen, Jun

publication date

  • January 2007