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Free Content Spatial variations in nutrient utilization, production and diagenesis in the sediments of a coastal upwelling regime (NW Africa): Implications for the paleoceanographic record

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A biogeochemical study of recent (multicores) sediments of the northwest African slope was undertaken to understand how the sediment composition varies with respect to the location of core sites relative to the centers of coastal upwelling, and how this has affected the palaeoceanographic record. Sedimentary organic carbon contents are inversely correlated with the nitrogen isotopic composition (15N), high Corganic concentrations and low 15N occurring at proximal (shallow) sites and the opposite at distal (deep) ones. These spatial differences are interpreted to result from higher relative nutrient utilization and a decrease in production as waters are advected offshore from the zone of upwelling. Highest Corganic contents also correlate positively with highest concentrations of redox-sensitive elements (U, Mo and S) that are fixed diagenetically in the sediments.

These results suggest that the sedimentary regime at a fixed position depends on the spatial location of the productive areas relatively to a given core site. Downcore records of Zr/Al, Ti/Al, mean grain size of the terrigenous fraction, 15N, Corganic , biogenic Ba, U, Mo and sulfur at a single site on the slope are interpreted to reflect glacial-interglacial changes in the core location relative to the coastline (sea-level effect), and hence changes in production as the area of coastal upwelling moved on- and offshore as sea-level changed, as well as undoubtedly changes in upwelling intensity through wind forcing. Further studies are needed to fully understand the interrelationships of all these processes, which are required for building more reliable paleoceanographic-paleoclimatic records.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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