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Distribution of benthic foraminifers (>125 um) in the surface sediments of the Arctic Ocean

Bulletin 2164

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Abstract

Census data on benthic foraminifers (>125 ?m) in surface sediment samples from 49 box cores are used to define four depth-controlled biofacies, which will aid in the paleoceanographic reconstruction of the Arctic Ocean. The shelf biofacies contains a mix of shallow-water calcareous and agglutinated species from the continental shelves of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and reflects the variable sedimentologic and oceanic conditions of the Arctic shelves. The intermediate-depth calcareous biofacies, found between 500 and 1,100 meters water depth (mwd), contains abundant Cassidulina teretis , presumably indicating the influence of Atlantic-derived water at this depth. In water depths between 1,100 and 3,500 m, a deepwater calcareous biofacies contains abundant Oridorsalis umbonatus . Below 3,500 mwd, the deepwater mixed calcareous/agglutinated biofacies of the Canada, Makarov, and Eurasian Basins reflects a combination of low productivity, dissolution, and sediment transport. Two other benthic foraminiferal species show specific environmental preferences. Fontbotia wuellerstorfi has a depth distribution between 900 and 3,500 mwd, but maximum abundance occurs in the region of the Mendeleyev Ridge. The elevated abundance of F. wuellerstorfi may be related to increased food supply carried by a branch of Atlantic water that crosses the Lomonosov Ridge near the Russian Continental Shelf. Triloculina frigida is recognized to be a species preferring lower slope sediments commonly disturbed by turbidites and bottom currents. INTRODUCTION At present, our understanding of the Arctic Ocean lags behind our understanding of other oceans, and fundamental questions still exist about its role in and response to global climate change. The Arctic Ocean is particularly sensitive to climatic fluctuations because small changes in the amounts of sea-ice cover can alter global albedo and thermohaline circulation (Aagaard and Carmack, 1994). Numerous questions still exist regarding the nature and timing of paleoclimatic events in the Arctic Ocean. In order to attempt to answer some of these questions, baseline studies are imperative. This report discusses the distribution of benthic foraminifers in surface sediment samples from 49 box cores (figs. 1 and 2, table 1) collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). A modern data set of benthic foraminiferal distribution is necessary for interpreting the paleoclimatic and oceanographic history of the Arctic Ocean.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Distribution of benthic foraminifers (>125 um) in the surface sediments of the Arctic Ocean
Series title:
Bulletin
Series number:
2164
Edition:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
1999
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U. S. Geological Survey,
Description:
iv, 28 p. ill., maps ;28 cm.