Paleoenvironmental implications of Cenozoic sediments from the central Arctic Ocean (IODP Expedition 302) using inorganic geochemistry

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Abstract

[1] Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 302 (Arctic Coring Expedition, ACEX) recovered a unique sediment record from the central Arctic Ocean, revealing that this region underwent major environmental fluctuations since the Late Cretaceous. Major and trace element composition of 1,300 samples were determined using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). The results show significant compositional variability of the sediments with depth that can be attributed to changes in (a) provenance and pathways of detrital material, (b) paleoenvironmental conditions and depositional processes, and (c) diagenetic overprint of the primary record. In addition to existing lithological units, we introduce new geochemical units for a more process-related approach interpreting the ACEX record. In detail, via the geochemical signature of Siberian flood basalts we are able to reconstruct the discontinuous rifting and deepening of the central Lomonosov Ridge during the Paleogene, accompanied by changing current regimes and the onset of sea ice. Eocene biosiliceous sedimentation took place in a relatively shallow setting under predominantly anoxic bottom water conditions, causing a positive anoxia-productivity feedback, although water column stratification was repeatedly interrupted by ventilation events. Anoxic to sulfidic conditions were even more extreme after biosilica production ceased, and significant amounts of pyrite were deposited on the Lomonosov Ridge. Especially in organic matter-rich Paleogene deposits, diagenetic processes obscured the paleoenvironmental signals. Fundamental environmental changes occurred in the Middle Eocene, but geochemical and micropaleontological proxies point not to the identical sediment depth. After approximately 26 Ma of non-deposition or erosion, the Middle Miocene record shows the transition to dominantly oxic bottom water conditions, although suboxic diagenesis seemingly affected these deposits.

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