Glacial-interglacial changes in sedimentary d15N over the last 120 kyr display a remarkably similar pattern in timing and amplitude in core records extending from the denitrification zone in the eastern tropical North Pacific (ETNP), where subsurface denitrification is active, to the Oregon margin, where no denitrification occurs today. Low d15N values (4-6 per mil) generally characterize glacial stages 2 and 4, and higher d15N values (7-10 per mil) are representative of the Holocene, millennial-scale periods within stage 3, and stage 5. The inferred synchroneity of d15N variations along the entire margin implies that the nitrate isotopic signal produced in the oxygen-poor subsurface waters in the ETNP is rapidly advected northward and recorded at sites far beyond the boundaries of the modern denitrification zone. Similar to d15N, primary production indicators (percent Corg, Ba/Al, and percent opal) show glacial-interglacial as well as millennial-scale variations along the NE Pacific margin, with higher primary production during warm periods. However, the relative phasing between d15N and paleoproduction tracers within individual records changes latitudinally. Whereas d15N and primary production vary approximately synchronously in the midlatitudes, production lags d15N in the ETNP by several kiloyears. This lag calls for a new understanding of the processes driving denitrification in the ETNP. We suggest that oxygen input by the Equatorial Undercurrent as well as local organic matter flux controls denitrification rates in the ETNP. Moreover, the differences in relative timing point to a time-transgressive development of upwelling-favorable winds along the NE Pacific margin after the last glaciation, with those in the north developing several kiloyears earlier.
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