Reconstruction of paleoenvironmental changes based on the planktonic foraminiferal assemblages off Shimokita (Japan) in the northwestern North Pacific

Azumi Kuroyanagi, Hodaka Kawahata, Hisashi Narita, Ken'ichi Ohkushi, Takafumi Aramaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Planktonic foraminifera live in the upper ocean, and their assemblages can record the surrounding environment. To reconstruct changes in water masses and the timing of flow of the Oyashio and Tsugaru currents through the Tsugaru Strait after the Last Glacial Maximum, when the Japan Sea had been almost isolated from the surrounding seas, we investigated at high resolution the planktonic foraminiferal fauna in seafloor sediments off the Shimokita (core MD01-2409: 41°33.9′N, 141°52.1′E), in the northwestern North Pacific, over the last 26,900 years. Factor analysis of the foraminiferal assemblage suggests that the water mass changed significantly as a result of the deglacial sea-level rise and opening of the straits into the Japan Sea. Mass accumulation rates of some selected foraminiferal species that inhabit characteristic environments (e.g., warm stratified water, Oyashio Current, Tsushima Current) corroborate these changes in water mass and water column structure. We also used the ratio of the dextral form to total Neogloboquadrina pachyderma as an indicator of subsurface (below the pycnocline) water temperature. We recognized five distinct periods of oceanographic change at the study site, which is just east of the Tsugaru Strait: (1) Oyashio Current affecting both surface and subsurface waters (26.9-15.7 thousand calendar years before present (cal. kyr BP)); (2) vertical mixing and subsurface warming as the Oyashio Current began to flow into the Japan Sea through the Tsugaru Strait (15.7-10.6 cal. kyr BP); (3) outflow of the Tsugaru Current from the Japan Sea into the Pacific, leading to baroclinic conditions, with the surface layer under the influence of the Tsugaru and the subsurface layers of the Oyashio Current (10.6-9.0 cal. kyr BP); (4) stratification of the water column developed as the flow of the Tsugaru Current increased (9.0-6.2 cal. kyr BP); and (5) warming of the subsurface layer, disruption of the stratification, and dominance of the Tsugaru Current in both surface and subsurface layers, similar to the present situation (6.2-1.5 cal. kyr BP). The timing of flow of the Oyashio and Tsugaru currents through the strait at the study site off Shimokita is generally compatible with the results of studies in the Japan Sea. The flow of the Tsugaru Current led to progressive warming of the waters, from the surface to the subsurface layers and from the Japan Sea side to the Pacific side of the Tsugaru Strait, beginning in 8.3-6.8 cal. kyr BP on the western side, and in 6.2 cal. kyr BP on the eastern side of the strait. By 4.8 cal. kyr BP on the western side, and by ∼ 3.4 cal. kyr BP on the eastern side of the strait, warm water prevailed in both surface and subsurface layers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-107
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Volume53
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • IMAGES
  • North Pacific
  • Oyashio Current
  • Tsugaru Current
  • factor analysis
  • planktonic foraminifera

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change

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