Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
Clim. Past, 8, 415–431, 2012
Clim. Past, 8, 415–431, 2012

Research article 07 Mar 2012

Research article | 07 Mar 2012

Climatically-controlled siliceous productivity in the eastern Gulf of Guinea during the last 40 000 yr

X. Crosta1, O. E. Romero2, O. Ther1, and R. R. Schneider3 X. Crosta et al.
  • 1CNRS/INSU, UMR5805, EPOC, Université Bordeaux 1, Talence Cedex, France
  • 2Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-UGR), 18100 Armilla-Granada, Spain
  • 3Marine Klimaforschung, Institut fuer Geowissenschaften, CAU Kiel, Germany

Abstract. Opal content and diatom assemblages were analysed in core GeoB4905-4 to reconstruct siliceous productivity changes in the eastern Gulf of Guinea during the last 40 000 yr. Opal and total diatom accumulation rates presented low values over the considered period, except during the Last Glacial Maximum and between 15 000 calendar years Before Present (15 cal. ka BP) and 5.5 cal. ka BP, the so-called African Humid Period, when accumulation rates of brackish and freshwater diatoms at the core site were highest. Conversely, accumulation rates of windblown diatoms exhibited an opposite pattern with higher values before and after the African Humid Period and greatest values during Heinrich Events, the Younger Dryas and since 5.5 cal. ka BP.

Our results demonstrate that siliceous productivity in the eastern Gulf of Guinea was directly driven by the nutrient load from local rivers, whose discharges were forced by precipitation changes over western Equatorial Africa and/or modification of the fluvio-deltaic systems forced by sea level changes. Precipitation in this region is controlled by the West African monsoon which is, in turn, partly dependent on the presence and intensity of the Atlantic Cold Tongue (ACT). Our results therefore suggest that the ACT was weakened, warmer trade winds were less vigorous, and cloud convection and precipitation were greater during the AHP though centennial-to-millennial timescale dry events were observed at ∼10 cal. ka BP, ∼8.5 cal. ka BP and ∼6 cal. ka BP. Conversely, the ACT was more intense, trade winds were more vigorous and African climate was more arid during H1, the Younger Dryas and after 5.5 cal. ka BP into the present.