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Generation, transport, and preservation of the alkenone-based U37K' sea surface temperature index in the water column and sediments of the Cariaco Basin (Venezuela)

Goni, M.A., Woodworth, M.P., Aceves, H.L., Thunell, R.C., Tappa, E., Black, D., Muller-Karger, F., Astor, Y. and Varela, R. 2004; Global Biogeochemical Cycles 18: 10.1029/2003GB002132


Alkenone fluxes in the water column of the Cariaco Basin ranged from 12 to 20 μg m−2 d−1 and were inversely related to upwelling strength. The U 37 K′ ratios of sinking particles varied from 0.78 to 0.96 and exhibited seasonal changes that were coherent with a 7°C variation in sea surface temperature (SST). The correlation between SST and U 37 K′ ratios closely overlapped with the calibration of Prahl et al. [1988] . Alkenone burial fluxes in Cariaco Basin sediments varied markedly over the past ∼6000 years, ranging from 0.2 to 5 μg m−2 d−1. The U 37 K′ ratios of surface sediments indicate SST was higher (26.3°C) during the last 50 years of deposition than in the previous 300 years (∼25°C), signaling an upwelling decrease in the latter part of the twentieth century. The lowest U 37 K′ -derived temperatures (∼25°C) were measured in sediments deposited during the little ice age (LIA). These compositions, coupled with relatively low alkenone fluxes (≤2 μg m−2 d−1), are consistent with conditions of enhanced upwelling, decreased SST and reduced haptophyte production. The highest U 37 K′ -derived SST estimates (over 26.5°C) were measured during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and suggest reduced upwelling at this time. Prior to the MWP, the alkenone record indicates temperatures of ∼26°C and burial fluxes of ∼2 μg m−2 d−1. These compositions indicate stronger upwelling conditions during the Holocene relative to the last 50 years and the MWP but annual SSTs above those estimated for the LIA.