Southwest Pacific deep water carbonate chemistry linked to high southern latitude climate and atmospheric CO2 during the Last Glacial Termination

Katherine A. Allen, Elisabeth L. Sikes, Bärbel Hönisch, Aurora C. Elmore, Thomas P. Guilderson, Yair Rosenthal, Robert F. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


A greater amount of CO2 was stored in the deep sea during glacial periods, likely via greater efficiency of the biologic pump and increased uptake by a more alkaline ocean. Reconstructing past variations in seawater carbonate ion concentration (a major component of alkalinity) enables quantification of the relative roles of different oceanic CO2 storage mechanisms and also places constraints on the timing, magnitude, and location of subsequent deep ocean ventilation. Here, we present a record of deep-water inorganic carbon chemistry since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ~19-23 ka BP), derived from sediment core RR0503-83 raised from 1627 m in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. The core site lies within the upper limit of southern-sourced Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW), just below the lower boundary of Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW). We reconstruct past changes in bottom water inorganic carbon chemistry from the trace element and stable isotopic composition of calcite shells of the epibenthic foraminifer Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi. A record of δCO32-(δCO32-=[CO32-]insitu-[CO32-]saturation) derived from the foraminiferal boron to calcium ratio (B/Ca) provides evidence for greater ice-age storage of respired CO2 and reveals abrupt deglacial shifts in [CO32-]insitu of up to 30 μmol/kg (5 times larger than the difference between average LGM and Holocene values). The rapidity of these changes suggests the influence of changing water mass structure and atmospheric circulation in addition to a decrease in CO2 content of interior waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-191
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 5 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


  • B/Ca
  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Carbon isotopes
  • Glacial termination
  • Ice age cycles
  • Marine carbon cycle


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