Deglacial upslope shift of NE Atlantic intermediate waters controlled slope erosion and cold-water coral mound formation (Porcupine Seabight, Irish margin)

Wienberg, Claudia, Titschack, Jürgen, Frank, Norbert, De Pol-Holz, Ricardo, Fietzke, Jan, Eisele, Markus, Kremer, Anne and Hebbeln, Dierk (2020) Deglacial upslope shift of NE Atlantic intermediate waters controlled slope erosion and cold-water coral mound formation (Porcupine Seabight, Irish margin) Quaternary Science Reviews, 237 (Article number 106310). DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106310.

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Supplementary data:



• Holocene cold-water coral mound formation started non-synchronous in Belgica province.
• Coral mounds and slope sediments record changes in intermediate water mass dynamics.
• Increased turbulent bottom currents steered slope erosion and mound formation.
• Internal waves at the ENAW-MOW boundary enhance energy supply and particle flux.
• Transition zone between the ENAW-MOW shifted 250 m upslope during the last deglacial.


Turbulent bottom currents significantly influence the formation of cold-water coral mounds and sedimentation processes on continental slopes. Combining records from coral mounds and adjacent slope sediments therefore provide an unprecedented palaeo-archive to understand past variations of intermediate water-mass dynamics. Here, we present coral ages from coral mounds of the Belgica province (Porcupine Seabight, NE Atlantic), which indicate a non-synchronous Holocene re-activation in mound formation suggested by a temporal offset of ∼2.7 kyr between the deep (start: ∼11.3 ka BP at 950 m depth) and shallow (start: ∼8.6 ka BP at 700 m depth) mounds. A similar depth-dependent pattern is revealed in the slope sediments close to these mounds that become progressively younger from 22.1 ka BP at 990 m to 12.2 ka BP at 740 m depth (based on core-top ages). We suggest that the observed changes are the consequence of enhanced bottom-water hydrodynamics, caused by internal waves associated to the re-invigoration of the Mediterranean Outflow Water (MOW) and the development of a transition zone (TZ) between the MOW and the overlying Eastern North Atlantic Water (ENAW), which established during the last deglacial. These highly energetic conditions induced erosion adjacent to the Belgica mounds and supported the re-initiation of mound formation by increasing food and sediment fluxes. The striking depth-dependent patterns are likely linked to a shift of the ENAW-MOW-TZ, moving the level of maximum energy ∼250 m upslope since the onset of the last deglaciation.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Belgica cold-water coral mound province, Coral mound formation, Slope sedimentation, Internal waves, Mediterranean outflow water, Vertical shift of intermediate water masses, Last deglacial, Holocene, NE Atlantic
Research affiliation: MARUM
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106310
ISSN: 0277-3791
Projects: CORICON, Palaeo-WACOM
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 07:29
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 07:29

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