Benthic foraminifera have been used as proxies for the prevailing conditions at the sediment–water interface. Their distribution patterns are thought to facilitate reconstruction of past environmental conditions. Variations of bottom water oxygenation can be traced by the downcore distribution of benthic foraminifera and some of their morphological characters. Being one of the strongest and most pronounced OMZs in today’s world oceans, the Peruvian OMZ is a key area to study such variations in relation with changing climate. Spatial changes or an extension of the OMZ through time and space are investigated using sediment cores from the lower OMZ boundary. We focus on time intervals Late Holocene, Early Holocene, Bølling Allerød, Heinrich-Stadial 1 and Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to investigate changes in bottom-water oxygen and redox conditions. The recent distributions of benthic foraminiferal assemblages provide background data for an interpretation of the past conditions. Living benthic foraminiferal faunas from the Peruvian margin are structured with the prevailing bottom-water oxygen concentrations today (Mallon et al., 2012). Downcore distribution of benthic foraminiferal assemblages showed fluctuations in the abundance of the indicator species depicting variations and a decreasing trend in bottom water oxygen conditions since the LGM. In addition, changes in bottom-water oxygen and nitrate concentrations are reconstructed for the same time intervals by the pore density in tests of Planulina limbata and Bolivina spissa (Glock et al., 2011), respectively. The pore densities also indicate a trend of higher oxygen and nitrate concentrations in the LGM compared to the Holocene. Combination of both proxies provide information on past bottom-water conditions and changes of oxygen concentrations for the Peruvian margin.
Glock et al., 2011: Environmental influences on the pore density of Bolivina spissa (Cushman), Journal of Foraminiferal Research, v. 41, no. 1, p. 22–32.
Mallon et al., 2012: The response of benthic foraminifera to low-oxygen conditions of the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone, in ANOXIA, pp.305-322.
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