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Marine radiocarbon reservoir age variation in Donax obesulus shells from northern Peru: late Holocene evidence for extended El Niño

Geology

By:
, , , , , ,
DOI: 10.1130/​G34065.1

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Abstract

For at least 6 m.y., El Niño events have posed the greatest environmental risk on the Peruvian coast. A better understanding of El Niño is essential for predicting future risk and growth in this tropical desert. To achieve this we analyzed archaeological and modern pre-bomb shells from the surf clam Donax for the radiocarbon reservoir effect (ΔR) to characterize late Holocene coastal upwelling conditions in northern Peru (8°14′S). Mean ΔR values from these shells suggest that modern upwelling conditions in this region were likely established between A.D. 539 and A.D. 1578. Our radiocarbon data suggest that upwelling conditions ca. A.D. 539 were less intense than those in modern times. The observed coastal water enrichment in 14C may be consequence of frequent strong El Niño events or extended El Niño–like conditions. These ΔR-inferred marine conditions are in agreement with proposed extended El Niño activity in proxy and archaeological records of ca. A.D. 475–530. Extended El Niño conditions have been linked to political destabilization, societal transformation, and collapse of the Moche civilization in northern Peru. A return to such conditions would have significant impacts on the dense population of this region today and in the near future.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Marine radiocarbon reservoir age variation in Donax obesulus shells from northern Peru: late Holocene evidence for extended El Niño
Series title:
Geology
DOI:
10.1130/​G34065.1
Volume
41
Issue:
5
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
GSA
Contributing office(s):
Eastern Energy Resources Science Center
Description:
4 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Geology
First page:
599
Last page:
602
Country:
Peru