Holocene shifts of the Subtropical Shelf Front off southeastern South America controlled by high and low latitude atmospheric forcings



Over the Uruguayan shelf and uppermost slope, the coalescence of northward flowing Subantarctic Shelf Water and southward flowing Subtropical Shelf Water forms a distinct thermohaline front termed the Subtropical Shelf Front (STSF). Running in a SW direction diagonally across the shelf from the coastal waters at 32°S toward the shelf break at ca. 36°S, the STSF represents the shelfward extension of the Brazil-Malvinas Confluence zone. This study reconstructs latitudinal STSF shifts during the Holocene based on benthic foraminifera δ18O and δ13C, total organic carbon, carbonate contents, Ti/Ca, and grain size distribution from a high-accumulation sedimentary record located at an uppermost continental-slope terrace. Our data provide direct evidence for: (1) a southern STSF position (to the South of the core site) at the beginning of the early Holocene (>9.4 cal ka BP) linked to a more southerly position of the Southern Westerly Winds in combination with restricted shelf circulation intensity due to lower sea level; (2) a gradual STSF northward migration (bypassing the core site toward the North) primarily forced by the northward migration of the Southern Westerly Winds from 9.4 cal ka BP onward; (3) a relatively stable position of the front in the interval between 7.2 and 4.0 cal ka BP; (4) millennial-scale latitudinal oscillations close to 36°S of the STSF after 4.0 cal ka BP probably linked to the intensification in El Niño Southern Oscillation; and (5) a southward migration of the STSF during the last 200 years possibly linked to anthropogenic influences on the atmosphere.