Deglacial climatic oscillations in the Gulf of California


  • L. D. Keigwin,

  • G. A. Jones


A high-resolution, accelerator radiocarbon dated climate record of the interval 8,000–18,000 years B.P. from Deep Sea Drilling Project site 480 (Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California) shows geochemical and lithological oscillations of oceanographic and climatic significance during deglaciation. Nonlaminated sediments are associated with cooler climatic conditions during the late glacial (up to 13,000 years B.P.), and from 10,300 to 10,800 years B.P., equivalent to the Younger Dryas event of the North Atlantic region. We propose that the changes from laminated (varved) to nonlaminated sediments resulted from increased oxygen content in Pacific intermediate waters during the glacial and the Younger Dryas episodes, and that the forcing for the latter event was global in scope. Prominent events of low δ18O are recorded in benthic foraminifera from 8,000 to 10,000 and at 12,000 years B.P.; evidence for an earlier event between 13,500 and 15,000 years B.P. is weaker. Maximum δ18O is found to have occurred 10,500, 13,500, and 15,000 years ago (and beyond). Oxygen isotopic variability most likely reflects changing temperature and salinity characteristics of Pacific waters of intermediate depth during deglaciation or environmental changes within the Gulf of California region. Several lines of evidence suggest that during deglaciation the climate of the American southwest was marked by increased precipitation that could have lowered salinity in the Gulf of California. Recent modelling studies show that cooling of the Gulf of Mexico due to glacial meltwater injection, which is believed to have occurred at least twice during deglaciation, would have resulted in increased precipitation with respect to evaporation in the American southwest during summertime. The timing of deglacial events in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California supports such an atmospheric teleconnection.