Calcareous plankton response to orbital and millennial-scale climate changes from ODP Leg 161-975
The paleoenvironmental conditions through MIS 15-9 at the Mediterranean Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 975 were interpreted by high resolution study of calcareous plankton assemblages compared with available d18O and d13C records and high resolution paleoclimate proxies from the Atlantic Ocean. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) have been estimated from planktonic foraminiferal assemblages using the artificial neural networks method. Calcareous plankton varied dominantly on a glacial-interglacial scale as testified by the SST record, foraminiferal diversity, total coccolith abundance and changes in warm-water calcareous nannofossil taxa. A general increase in foraminiferal diversity and of total coccolith abundance is observed during interglacials. Warmest SSTs are reached during MIS 11, while MIS 12 and MIS 10 represent the coldest intervals of the studied record. During MIS 12, one of the most extreme glacials of the last million years, occurrence of Globorotalia inflata and of neogloboquadrinids indicates a shoaling of the interface between Atlantic inflowing and Mediterranean outflowing waters. Among calcareous nannofossils the distribution of Gephyrocapsa margereli-G. muellerae > 4 µm also supports a reduced Atlantic-Mediterranean exchange during MIS 12. Superimposed on glacial-interglacial variability, six short-terms coolings are recognized during MIS 12 and 10, which appear comparable in their distribution and amplitude to the Heinrich - type events documented in the Atlantic Ocean in the same interval. During these H-type events, N. pachyderma (s) and G. margereli-G. muellerae > 4 µm increase as a response to the enhanced inflow of cold Atlantic water into the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar. Mediterranean surface water hydrography appears to have been most severely affected at Termination V during the H-type event Ht4, possibly as a response to a large volume of Atlantic meltwater inflow via the Strait of Gibraltar and/or to freshwater/terrigenous input deriving from local mountain glaciers. Three additional SST coolings are recorded through MIS 14-16, but these are not well correlated with Heinrich - type events documented in the Atlantic Ocean in the same interval; during these cooling episodes only the subpolar Turborotalita quinqueloba increases. These results highlight the sensitive response of the Mediterranean basin to millennial-scale climate variations related to Northern Hemisphere ice-sheet instability and support the hypothesis that the tight connection between high latitude climate dynamics and Mediterranean sea surface water features can be traced through the Middle Pleistocene.