• Integrated Ocean Drilling Program;
  • Bering Sea;
  • geochemistry;
  • paleoproductivity;
  • nutrient leakage

[1] Intergrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 323 recovered a sediment record covering the last ~4.3 Ma from the Bering Sea (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Site U1341, Bowers Ridge, 2177 m water depth). To resolve Pliocene-Pleistocene paleoenvironmental changes in this marginal basin, ~190 sediment samples were analyzed for their bulk element composition. Aluminium contents in Bowers Ridge sediments are variable but overall higher toward younger sediments, probably related to the intensification of the Northern Hemispheric Glaciation and increasing sea ice transport in the Bering Sea. The gradual increase of terrigenous input is mirrored by decreasing SiO2 and excess Si (Sixs) contents, but the overall Si enrichment of the deposits reflects continuous opal deposition since the Pliocene at Bowers Ridge. Unlike in the North Pacific, the Sixs record at Site U1341 does not support a dramatic decrease in opal export following the onset of the Northern Hemispheric Glaciation around 2.7 Ma, but SiO2xs have higher accumulation rates (up to ~8 g/cm2/ka) between ~2.6 and ~1.8 Ma BP. During this period, the major oceanic opal deposition centers shifted globally from open marine high latitude regions to upwelling areas. We here discuss how the onset of North Pacific stratification at ~2.7 Ma BP may have caused leakage of nutrient-rich deep/intermediate North Pacific water into the Bering Sea via the deep Kamtchatka Strait, leading to increased opal deposition—and likely reactive organic matter export—at Bowers Ridge. As a result, magnetic and geochemical records were overprinted by intensified diagenesis, significantly affecting their applications as paleoceanographic proxies.