Late Quaternary sediments on the West African continental margin between 24°N and 15°N were studied with RV METEOR (1971) and VALDIVIA (1975). Cores on the shelf were taken with a 6-m-vibrocorer, in deeper water mainly with a 12 m Kastenlot corer.
During Holocene, and up to the present time, more or less and climatic conditions north of the Senegal River area reduced terrigenous supply. Therefore, the biogenic-carbonate content exceeds about 50%. Wüstenquarz numbers (red + yellow quartz : white quartz x 100) are high (20 to mmore than 200), indicating eolian input. The Senegal River supplied fine grained, green colored, terrigenous material with some plant debris.
During Würm, the Mediterranean climatic zone with winter rains was shifted more than 5° to the South and was reaching Banc d'Arguin (at about 20°N). Therefore, the terrigenous supply was increased in this northern part and consequently the carbonate content and the Wüstenquartz numbers dropped below 50% and 10, respectively. The arid zone was also shifted to the south; as a consequence, the Senegal River did not reach the sea, eolian supply diluted the biogenic carbonates, and increased Wüstenquartz numbers to more than 200. Eolian dunes covered parts of the shelf. Ratios of radiolarians/plankonic foraminifera and planktonic/benthonic organisms and sedimentation rates of organic carbon indicate stronger upwelling in the northern region. Turbidity currents were more frequent, eroding as much as a third of the material supplied ba pelagic sedimentation.