Xie, Ruifang (2013-05). Tracing Paleoclimate over the Past 25,000 Years Using Evidence from Radiogenic Isotopes. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The objective of this dissertation is to apply radiogenic isotopes extracted from marine sediments to investigate aspects of global climate change over the past 25 kyr, especially ocean and atmospheric circulation, continental aridity, and hydrology. By focusing on the geochemical records from marine sediments and authigenic precipitates preserved in these sediments, I aim to better understand climate forcing and feedback mechanisms, which are critical to models of climate change. Firstly, I have investigated the dynamics of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) over the past 25 kyr in the eastern equatorial Pacific by fingerprinting dust provenance using radiogenic isotopes (Nd, Sr, Pb) and trace elements (Fe, Si, Ba) in the detrital fraction of marine sediments along a transect across the equator at 110?W. Results from this study suggest no glacial-Holocene difference in the mean position of the ITCZ, but a more northerly, possibly stronger, deglacial ITCZ. Secondly, I have applied Nd isotope ratios from authigenic precipitates extracted from marine sediments and those from fish debris to trace past intermediate water circulation changes on glacial-interglacial and millennial timescales. The authigenic Nd isotope record from the Florida Straits suggests a reduced circulation of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW) into the tropical North Atlantic during the Younger Dryas (YD) and Heinrich 1 (H1) events, associated with a significant reduction in AMOC. However, in the Southern Caribbean, apparent deviations in the Nd isotopic compositions between the acid-reductive leachate and the fish debris suggest that the leachate method is not reliable at this location and that it needs to be tested in more detail in various oceanic settings. In the Southern Caribbean, the fish debris Nd isotope results suggest a two-step recovery of the upper North Atlantic Deep Water during the last deglaciation. Comparing our new fish debris Nd isotope data to authigenic Nd isotope data for sediments from the Florida Straits and the Demarara Rise, we propose that glacial and deglacial AAIW does not penetrate beyond the lower depth limit of modern AAIW in the tropical North Atlantic. Both studies suggest a tight connection between Atlantic intermediate water circulation variability and high-latitude North Atlantic climate change.

publication date

  • May 2013