Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Abstract (EDOC: 5727)
Laminated sediments spanning the last 20,000 years (though not continuously) in the Shaban Deep, a brine-filled basin in the northern Red Sea, were analyzed microscopically and with backscattered electron imagery in order to determine laminae composition with emphasis on the diatomaceous component. Based on this detailed study, we present schematic models to propose paleoflux scenarios for laminae formation at different time-slices. The investigated core (GeoB 5836-2; 26°12.61′N, 35°21.56′E; water depth 1475 m) shows light and dark alternating laminae that are easily distinguishable in the mid-Holocene and at the end of the deglaciation (13–15 ka) period. Light layers are mainly composed of coccoliths, terrigenous material and diatom fragments, while dark layers consist almost exclusively of diatom frustules (monospecific or mixed assemblages). The regularity in the occurrence of coccolith/diatom couplets points to an annual deposition cycle where contrasting seasons and associated plankton blooms are represented (diatoms—fall/winter deposition, coccoliths—summer signal). We propose that, for the past ~15,000 years, the laminations represent two-season annual varves. Strong dissolution of carbonate, with the concomitant loss of the coccolith-rich layer in sediments older than 15 ka, prevents us from presenting a schematic model of annual deposition. However, the diatomaceous component reveals a marked switch in species composition between Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) sediments (dominated by Chaetoceros resting spores) and sediments somewhat younger (18–19 ka; dominated by Rhizosolenia). We propose that different diatom assemblages reflect changing conditions in stratification in the northern Red Sea: Strong stratification conditions, such as during two meltwater pulses at 14.5 and 11.4 ka, are reflected in the sediment by Rhizosolenia layers, while Chaetoceros-dominated assemblages represent deep convection conditions.
(2004): The significance of diatoms in the formation of laminated sediments of the Shaban Deep, Northern Red Sea. Marine Geology, 209, 1-4, 279-301.