Deepwater source variations during the last climatic cycle and their impact on the global deepwater circulation


  • J. C. Duplessy,

  • N. J. Shackleton,

  • R. G. Fairbanks,

  • L. Labeyrie,

  • D. Oppo,

  • N. Kallel


The degree of similarity of the ∂13C records of the planktonic foraminiferal species N. pachyderma and of the benthic foraminiferal genus Cibicides in the high-latitude basins of the world ocean is used as an indicator of the presence of deepwater sources during the last climatic cycle. Whereas continuous formation of deep water is recognized in the southern ocean, the Norwegian Sea stopped acting as a sink for surface water during isotope stage 4 and the remainder of the last glaciation. However, deep water formed in the north Atlantic south of the Norwegian Sea during the last climatic cycle as early as isotope substage 5d, and this area was also the only active northern source during stages 4–2. A detailed reconstruction of the geographic distribution of ∂13C in benthic foraminifera in the Atlantic Ocean during the last glacial maximum shows that the most important deepwater mass originated from the southern ocean, whereas the Glacial North Atlantic Deep Water cannot be traced south of 40°N. At shallower depth an oxygenated 13C rich Intermediate Water mass extended from 45°N to 15°S. In the Pacific Ocean a ventilation higher than the modern one was also found in open ocean in the depth range 700–2600 m and is best explained by stronger formation of Intermediate Water in high northern latitudes.