Dinoflagellate cyst counts on sediment core ABC26
In the reconstruction of bioproductivity in surface waters the extent to which a proxy has been diagenetically altered is often a matter of debate. Here we investigate how organic- and calcareous-walled dinoflagellate cysts can be used for separately estimating bioproductivity and oxygen related diagenesis. This is achieved by studying the cyst content of the most recent Eastern Mediterranean sapropel S1, that is thought to have been deposited under conditions of increased primary production in surface waters and possible anoxia in the bottom waters. Based on chemical evidence, it has been shown that the visible sapropelic layer represents only the residual lower part of what was initially a much thicker sapropel, as a result of post-depositional decay of organic matter related to oxygen penetration into the sediments. The effect of aerobic organic matter decay on the cyst associations is studied through the comparison of the unaffected, lower part of the initial sapropel and the 'oxidised' upper part. Comparing the unaffected sapropelic sediments with pre- and post-sapropelic material gives insight into the relationship between fossil cysts assemblages and palaeoproductivity. Impagidinium aculeatum, Impagidinium patulum, Operculodinium israelianum, Polysphaeridium zoharyi and probably Impagidinium spp., Impagidinium paradoxum and Nematosphaeropsis labyrinthus are very resistant against aerobic decay and their accumulation rates appear to be primarily related to productivity in surface waters. Protoperidinium and Echinidinium species, on the other hand, are shown to be very sensitive and can be used to recognise oxygen-related decay. The calcareous-walled dinoflagellate cysts seem to be unaffected by oxic organic matter decay in Mediterranean sediments.