Antarctic Science

Earth Sciences

Record of Holocene glacial oscillations in Bransfield Basin as revealed by siliceous microfossil assemblages

M. Angeles Bárcena a1, Rainer Gersonde a2, Santiago Ledesma a1, Joan Fabrés a3, Antonio M. Calafat a3, Miquel Canals a3, F. Javier Sierro a1 and Jose A. Flores a3
a1 Departmento de Geologia, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
a2 Alfred Wegener Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Columbusstrasse, D-27568 Bremerhaven, Germany
a3 GRC Geociencies Marines, Department Geologia Dinamica, Geofisica i Paleontologia, Universidad de Barcelona, Campus de Pedralbes, 08071 Barcelona, Spain

Article author query
bárcena m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
gersonde r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ledesma s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
fabrés j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
calafat a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
canals m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sierro f   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
flores j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Two gravity cores, Gebra-1 and Gebra-2 from the central and eastern basins of Bransfield Strait, West Antarctica, consist mainly of hemipelagic, laminated muds with black layers rich in sand-sized volcanic ash. Micropalaeontological (diatoms and radiolarians) and geochemical (organic and inorganic) analyses, together with radiometric dating (U/Th, 14C and 210Pb) have been performed on both cores. AMS analyses on Total Organic Carbon yielded a 14C-age older than expected, 2810 yr BP for the core top of Gebra-1 and 2596 yr BP for Gebra-2. The downcore pattern of ages indicates a sedimentation rate of 130 cm kyr1 for Gebra-1 and 160 cm kyr1 for Gebra-2 210Pb anomalies suggest the core top of Gebra-1 is present-day sediment. The diatom and radiolarian assemblages are related to the sequence of neoglacial events over the last three millennia. The recent significant reduction in Chaetoceros resting spores is interpreted as a reduction in palaeoproductivity. The progressive increase in sea-ice taxa for the last three millennia may indicate a cooling trend. Greater sea-ice coverage during the coldest neoglacial events in the Bransfield Basin, as well as in the Weddell Sea and Bellingshausen Sea, is documented by increases in sea-ice taxa and reductions in Thalassiosira antarctica/ T. scotia resting spores, Fragilariopsis kerguelensis, the Lithomelissa group and the “circumpolar” group of radiolarians. For these periods, we postulate a restricted communication between the Weddell Sea, Bellingshausen Sea and Bransfield basin. The millenial-scale changes are overprinted by a high frequency cyclicity at about 200–300 yrs, which might be related to the 200–yrs solar cycle.

(Received December 30 1997)
(Accepted June 2 1998)

Key Words: Bransfield Basin; Holocene; neoglacial events; palaeoceanography; siliceous microfossils; West Antarctica.