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Radiocarbon Chronology of Red Sea Sediments

  • Teh-Lung Ku
  • David L. Thurber
  • Guy G. Mathieu

Abstract

Radiocarbon dates have been obtained on seven cores taken from the central part of the Red Sea in the axial trough. The observed sedimentation rates (over the past 20,000 years) range from about 5cm/1,000 yr to more than 60cm/1,000 yr. Variations are primarily due to the episodic precipitation of minerals associated with the geothermal activity of the hot-brine deeps. The brine-derived materials precipitate at a rate of more than 40cm/1,000 yr, whereas accumulation rates of the detrital silicates and calcareous shells are on the order of 2cm/1,000 yr and 8cm/1,000 yr respectively, for the area studied.

The abrupt world climatic changes at 11,000 years ago which mark the close of the Wisconsin glacial period (Broecker et al., 1960) are found in these cores to be reflected by the following features of transition: (1) Lithified carbonate sediments, while common below the transition, are no longer formed. (2) Both planktonic foraminifera and pteropods become much more abundant in the recent sediments. The relative abundance of species also changes; species with less tolerance to high salinity now flourish at the expense of the more salinity-tolerant ones. (3) Shallow water dinoflagellates appear to be transported to the axial trough area at the present, but are absent below the transition zone. (4) δO18 of foram and pteropod tests decreases from values as high as +6 per mill (on PDB scale) in older sediments to near 0 per mill in the recent. These features imply that before the warming of world-wide climate at about 11,000 years B. P., the Red Sea environmental condition must have been one of high salinity and regression of the sea. The sill located near the Strait of Bab el Mandeb must have been effective in limiting the water exchanges between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean during the low sea stand of the Wisconsin. Such a condition may have prevailed with short-term exceptions back to about 70,000 years ago.

Intrusions of hot brine into the Atlantis II Deep may have occurred over the last 10,000 years. Records of geothermal events older than 20,000 years have been observed elsewhere.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teh-Lung Ku
    • 1
  • David L. Thurber
    • 2
  • Guy G. Mathieu
    • 2
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Lamont Geological Observatory of Columbia UniversityPalisadesUSA

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