A sediment core from the high latitude of the Northern Atlantic (Nordic seas) was intensively studied by means of biogeochemical, sedimentological, and micropaleontological methods. The proxy records of interglacial marine oxygen isotope stage (MIS) 11 are directly compared with records from the Holocene (MIS 1), revealing that many features of MIS 11 are rather atypical for an interglaciation at these latitudes.
Full-interglacial conditions without deposition of ice-rafted debris existed in MIS 11 for about 10 kyr (∼398–408 ka). This time is marked by the lightest d18O values in benthic foraminifera, indicating a small global ice volume, and by the appearance of subpolar planktic foraminifera, indicating a northward advection of Atlantic surface water. A comparison with MIS 1, using the same proxies, implies that surface temperatures were lower and global ice volume was larger during MIS 11. A comparative study of the ratio between planktic and benthic foraminifera also reveals strong differences among the two intervals. These data imply that the coupling between surface and bottom bioproductivity, i.e., the vertical transportation of the amount of fresh organic matter, was different in MIS 11. This is corroborated by a benthic fauna in MIS 11, which contains no epifaunally-living species. Despite comparable values in carbonate content (%), reflectance analyses of the total sediment (greylevel) show much higher values for MIS 11 than for MIS 1. These high values are attributed to increased corrosion of foraminiferal tests, directly affecting the sediment greylevel. The reason for this enhanced carbonate corrosion in MIS 11 remains speculative, but may be linked to the global carbon cycle.