Variability in terrigenous sedimentation processes off northwest Africa and its relation to climate changes: Inferences from grain-size distributions of a Holocene marine sediment record

Christine Holz*, Jan Berend W. Stuut, Rüdiger Henrich, Helge Meggers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Variations in deposition of terrigenous fine sediments and their grain-size distributions from a high-resolution marine sediment record offshore northwest Africa (30°51.0′N; 10°16.1′W) document climate changes on the African continent during the Holocene. End-member grain-size distributions of the terrigenous silt fraction, which are related to fluvial and aeolian dust transport, indicate millennial-scale variability in the dominant transport processes at the investigation site off northwest Africa as well as recurring periods of dry conditions in northwest Africa during the Holocene. The terrigenous record from the subtropical North Atlantic reflects generally humid conditions before the Younger Dryas, during the early to mid-Holocene, as well as after 1.3 kyr BP. By contrast, continental runoff was reduced and arid conditions were prevalent at the beginning of the Younger Dryas and during the mid- and late Holocene. A comparison with high- and low-latitude Holocene climate records reveals a strong link between northwest African climate and Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation throughout the Holocene. Due to its proximal position, close to an ephemeral river system draining the Atlas Mountains as well as the adjacent Saharan desert, this detailed marine sediment record, which has a temporal resolution between 15 and 120 years, is ideally suited to enhance our understanding of ocean-continent-atmosphere interactions in African climates and the hydrological cycle of northern Africa after the last deglaciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalSedimentary Geology
Volume202
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007

Keywords

  • Aeolian dust
  • Climate
  • End-member model
  • Grain size
  • Holocene
  • Northwest Africa

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