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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  26 Jun 2020

26 Jun 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

The influence of Atlantic climate variability on the long-term development of Mediterranean cold-water coral mounds (Alboran Sea, Melilla Mound Field)

Robin Fentimen1, Eline Feenstra1, Andres Rüggeberg1, Efraim Hall1, Valentin Rime1, Torsten Vennemann2, Irka Hajdas3, Antonietta Rosso4, David Van Rooij5, Thierry Adatte2, Hendrik Vogel6, Norbert Frank7, Thomas Krengel7, and Anneleen Foubert1 Robin Fentimen et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, CH-1700, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, CH-1015, Switzerland
  • 3Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics, ETH Zürich, Zürich, CH-8093, Switzerland
  • 4Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, 95128, Italy
  • 5Department of Geology, Ghent University, Ghent, 9000, Belgium
  • 6Institute of Geological Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, CH-3012, Switzerland
  • 7Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, D-69120, Germany

Abstract. This study provides a detailed reconstruction of climatic events affecting a cold-water coral mound located within the East Melilla Coral Province (Southeast Alboran Sea) over the last 300 ky. Based on benthic foraminiferal assemblages, macrofaunal quantification, grain size analysis, sediment geochemistry, and foraminiferal stable isotope compositions, a reconstruction of environmental conditions prevailing in the region is proposed. The variations in planktonic and benthic δ18O values indicate that cold-water coral mound formation follows global climatic variability. Cold-water corals develop during both interglacial and glacial periods, although interglacial conditions would have allowed better proliferation. Environmental conditions during glacial periods, particularly during the Last Glacial Maximum, appear to better suit the ecological requirements of the erect cheilostome bryozoan Buskea dichotoma. Benthic foraminiferal assemblages suggest that high organic carbon flux characterized interglacial periods. Results from this study imply that increased influence of warm and moist Atlantic air masses during interglacial periods led to increased fluvial discharge, providing nutrients for cold-water corals. Important interglacial Atlantic Water mass inflow further promoted strong Alboran Gyres, and thus mixing between surface and intermediate water masses. Increased turbulence and nutrient supply would have hence provided suitable conditions for coral development. In contrast, benthic foraminiferal assemblages and grain size distributions suggest that the benthic environment received less organic matter during glacial periods, whilst bottom flow velocity was reduced in comparison to interglacial periods. During glacial periods, arid continental conditions combined to more stratified water masses caused a dwindling of coral communities in the southeastern Alboran Sea, although aeolian dust input may have allowed these to survive. In contrast to Northeast Atlantic counterparts, coral mound build-up in the southeastern Alboran Sea occurs during glacial as well as during interglacial periods and at very low aggradation rates (between 1 and 9 cm ky−1). We propose that Buskea dichotoma plays an important role in long-term mound formation at the East Melilla Coral Province, noticeably during glacial periods.

Robin Fentimen et al.

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Robin Fentimen et al.

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Latest update: 12 Aug 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study describes the development of a cold-water Coral mound in the southeast alboran sea over the last 300 ky. Mound development follows interglacial-glacial cycles.
This study describes the development of a cold-water Coral mound in the southeast alboran sea...