Scientia Marina, Vol 70, No 4 (2006)

Holocene neoglacial events in the Bransfield Strait (Antarctica). Palaeocenographic and paleoclimatic significance

María Ángeles Bárcena
Dpto. Geologia, Paleontologia, Fac. Ciencias, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca , Spain

Joan Fabrés
GRC Geociencies Marines, Dpt. Geologia Dinamica, Geof. i P. Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona , Spain

Enrique Isla
Instituto Ciencias del Mar (CSIC). Barcelona , Spain

José Abel Flores
Dpto. Geologia, Paleontologia, Fac. Ciencias, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca , Spain

Francisco Javier Sierro
Dpto. Geologia, Paleontologia, Fac. Ciencias, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca , Spain

Miquel Canals
Dpto. Geologia, Paleontologia, Fac. Ciencias, Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca , Spain

Albert Palanques
Instituto Ciencias del Mar (CSIC). Barcelona , Spain


Geochemical analysis, micropalaeontological analysis and radiometric dating techniques were performed on four gravity cores, G-1, G-2, A-3 and A-6, recovered during the BIO Hesperides expeditions GEBRA-93 and FRUELA-96 from the Bransfield Strait (Antarctica). Moreover, in order to improve the sedimentation rate control we tentatively relate abundance variations in the sea-ice taxa group (SITG) to air temperature estimations based on Deuterium contents in Vostok ice-core. The results of diatom analyses were related to the sequence of neoglacial events that have occurred over the last three millennia. For these periods, a restricted communication between the Weddell, Bransfield and Bellingshausen seas has been proposed. The abundance patterns of diatom valves, resting spores (RS) of the diatom Chaetoceros and opal content agree with the high productivity values previously reported for the area. The significant reduction Chaetoceros RS towards the present is interpreted as a reduction in surface productivity. Trend differences between Chaetoceros RS and TOC contents are explained in terms of organic matter preservation. Diatom communities from the Bransfield Strait did not play an important role in the global CO2 cycle during cold periods. Bio- and geochemical changes have overprinted high frequency cyclicity at about 200-300 yr, which might be related to the 200-yr solar cycle.


diatoms; geochemistry; neoglacial events; palaeoceanography; palaeocliomatology; Holocene; Bransfield Strait; Antarctica

Full Text:



Abelmann, A. and R. Gersonde. – 1991. Biosiliceous particle flux in the Southern Ocean. Mar. Chem., 35: 503-536.

Amos A.F. – 1987. RACER: Physical oceanography of the western Bransfield Strait. Antarct. J. US., 22: 137-140.

Aristegui, J., M.F. Montero, S. Ballesteros, G. Basterretxea and K. van Lenning. – 1996. Planktonic primary production and microbial respiration measured by 14C assimilation and dissolved oxygen changes in coastal waters of the Antarctic Peninsula during austral summer: implications for carbon flux studies. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 132: 191-201. doi:10.3354/meps132191

Armand, L.K.T, X. Crosta, O. Romero, J.J. Pichon. – 2005. The biogeography of major diatom taxa in Southern Ocean sediments: 1. Sea ice related species. Palaeogeogr. Palaeocl. Palaeoecol., 223: 93-126. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2005.02.015

Bacastow, R. B. – 1996. The effect of temperature change of the warm surface waters of the oceans on atmospheric CO2. Global Biogeochem. Cy., 10: 319-333. doi:10.1029/96GB00039

Bárcena, M.A. and F. Abrantes. – 1998. Evidence of a high-productivity area off the coast of Málaga from studies of diatoms in surface sediments. Mar. Micropaleontol., 35: 91-103. doi:10.1016/S0377-8398(98)00012-7

Bárcena, M.A., R. Gersonde, S. Ledesma, J. Fabrés, A.M. Calafat, M. Canals, F.J. Sierro, and J.A. Flores. – 1998. Record of Holocene glacial oscillations in the Bransfield Basin as revealed by siliceous microfossil assemblages. Antarct. Sci., 10(3): 269-285.

Bárcena, M.A., E. Isla, A. Plaza, J.A. Flores, F.J. Sierro, P. Masqué, J.A. Sánchez-Cabeza, and A. Palanques. – 2002. Bioaccumulation record and its relation with paleoclimatic evolution in the western Bransfield Strait. Deep-Sea Res. II, 49(4-5): 935-950. doi:10.1016/S0967-0645(01)00132-1

Bareille, G., M. Labracherie, L. Labeyrie, J.J. Pichon and J.L. Turon. – 1991. Biogenic silica accumulation rate during the Holocene in the southeastern Indian Ocean. Mar. Chemis., 35: 537-551.

Basterrechea, G. and J. Aristegui. – 1999. Phytoplankton biomass and productionduring late austral spring (1991) and summer (1993) in the Bransfield Strait. Polar Biol., 21: 11-22. doi:10.1007/s003000050328

Broecker, W.S. – 1981. Glacial to interglacial changes in ocean and atmosphere chemistry. In: A. Berger (ed.), Climatic variations and Variability: Facts and Theories, pp. 111-121. Redil Publishing Company.

Broecker, W.S. and T.H. Peng. – 1989. The cause of the glacial to interglacial atmospheric CO2 Change: A polar alkalinity hypothesis. Global Biogeochem. Cy., 3(3): 215-239. doi:10.1029/GB003i003p00215

Crespin, J., X. Crosta, V. Masson-Delmonte, A. Leventer. – 2004. Evolution of Holocene reservoir ages off Adelie Land, East Antarctica. ICP VIII, Program and Abstracts, Biarritz, 144.

Domack, E.W. – 2001. Holocene record from the Antarctic Peninsula: 200 to 1800 year oscillations. GSA Annual Meeting, November 5-8.

Domack, E.W. and P.A. Mayewski. – 1999. Bi-polar ocean linkages: evidence from late Holocene Antarctic Marine and Greenland ice-core records. Holocene 9 2): 237-241.

Ercilla, G., J. Baraza, B. Alonso, and M. Canals. – 1997. Recent geological processes in the Central Bransfield Basin (Western Antartic Peninsula). In: M.S. Stoker, D. Evans and A. Cramp (eds.), Geological Processes on Continental Margins: Sedimentation, Mass-Wasting and Stability, pp. 205-216. Geol. Soc. London, Sp. Publ.

Fabrés, J., A.M. Calafat, M. Canals, M. A. Bárcena, and J. A. Flores. – 2000. Bransfield Basin fine grained sediments: Late Holocene sedimentary processes and oceanographic and climatic conditions. Holocene, 10(9): 703-718. doi:10.1191/09596830094953

Gersonde, R. and Wefer G. – 1987. Sedimentation of biogenic siliceous particles in Antarctic waters from the Atlantic sector. Mar. Micropaleontol., 11: 311-332. doi:10.1016/0377-8398(87)90004-1

Gordon, A L. and W.D. Nowlin. – 1987. The basin waters of the Bransfield Strait. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 8: 258-264. doi:10.1175/1520-0485(1978)008<0258:TBWOTB>2.0.CO;2

Harden, S.L., D.J. DeMaster, and C.A. Nittrouer. – 1992. Developing sediment geochronologies for high-latitude continental shelf deposits: a radiochemical approach. Mar. Geol., 103: 69-97. doi:10.1016/0025-3227(92)90009-7

Indermühle, A., T.F. Stocker, F. Joss, H. Fisher, H.J. Smith, M. Wahlen, B.M. Deck, D. Mastroianni, J. Tschumi, T.M. Blunier, R. Meyer, and B. Stauffer - 1999. Holocene carbon-cycle dynamics based on CO2 trapped in ice at Taylor Dome (Antarctica). Nature, 398: 121-126. doi:10.1038/18158

Leventer, A., E. Domack, S.E. Ishman, S. Brachfeld, C.E. McClennen, and P. Manley. – 1996. Productivity cycles of 200-300 years in the Antarctic Peninsula region: Understanding linkages among the sun, atmosphere, oceans, se ice, and biota. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 108(12): 1626-1644. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(1996)108<1626:PCOYIT>2.3.CO;2

Mortlock, R. A. and P. N. Froelich. – 1989. A simple method for the rapid determination of biogenic opal in pelagic marine sediments. Deep-Sea Res., 36(9): 1415-1426. doi:10.1016/0198-0149(89)90092-7

N.O.C. – 1985. Naval Oceanography Command Detachment, Asheville. Sea Ice Climatic Atlas, 1: Antarctic.

Paillard, D., L. Labeyrie, and P. Yiou. – 1996. Macintosh program performs timeseries analyses. Eos Trans, AGU, 77: 379. doi:10.1029/96EO00259

Palanques, A., E. Isla, P. Puig, J.A. Sánchez-Cabeza, and P. Masqué. – 2002. Annual evolution of downward particle fluxes in the Western Bransfield Strait (Antarctica) during the FRUELA project. Deep-Sea Res. II, 49(4-5): 903-920. doi:10.1016/S0967-0645(01)00130-8

Petit, J.R., D. Raynaud, C. Lorius, J. Joudel, G. Delaygue, N.I. Barkov, and V.M. Kotlyakov. – 2000. Historical isotopic temperature record from the Vostok ice core. In: Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, J.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., J.S.A.

Sarnthein, M., K. Winn, and R. Zahn. – 1987. Paleoproductivity of oceanic upwelling and the effect on atmospheric CO2 and climatic changes during deglaciation times. In: W.H. Berger and L.D. Labeyrie (eds.), Abrupt Climate Change, Proceedings of the NATO/NSF A.R.W. Symposium at Biviers/Grenoble 1985, pp. 311-337.

Schrader H.J. and R. Gersonde. – 1978. Diatoms and silicoflagellates. In: W.J. Zachariasse et al. (eds.), Micropaleontological counting methods andtechniques- an exercise on an eight metres section of the lower Pliocene of Capo Rossello, Sicily. Utrecht Micropal. Bull., 17: 129-176.

Stuiver, M., G.H. Denton, T.J. Hughes, J.L. Fastook. – 1981. History of the marine ice sheet in west Antarctica during the last glaciation: A working hypothesis. In: G. Denton and T. Hughes (eds.), The Last Great Ice Sheets, pp. 319-436. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Varela, M., E. Fernández and P. Serret. – 2002. Side-fractionated phytoplankton biomass and primary production in the Gerlache and South Bransfield Straits (Antarctic Peninsula) in the austral summer 95-96. Deep-Sea Res. II, 49: 749-768. doi:10.1016/S0967-0645(01)00122-9

Villanueva, J. – 1996. Estudi de les variacions climàtiques y oceanogràiques a l’Atlantic Nord durant els últims 3000000 anys mitjançant l’anàlisi de marcadors moleculars. Ph.D. thesis, Univ. Ramon Llull.

Wefer, G., G. Fischer, D.K. Fütterer and R. Gersonde. – 1988. Seasonal particle flux in the Bransfield Strait, Antarctica. Deep-Sea Res., 35(6): 891-898. doi:10.1016/0198-0149(88)90066-0

Zielinski, J. and R. Gersonde. – 1997. Diatom distribution in Southern Ocean surface sediments (Atlantic sector): Implications for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. Palaeogeogr. Palaeocl. Palaeoecol., 129: 213-250. doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(96)00130-7

Copyright (c) 2006 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support