Paleoceanographic conditions in the western Caribbean Sea for the last 560 kyr as inferred from planktonic foraminifera

J. Ignacio Martinez*, Germán Mora, Timothy T. Barrows

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Faunal analyses of planktonic foraminifera and upper-water temperature reconstructions with the modern analog technique are studied and compared to the magnetic susceptibility and gamma ray logs of ODP Core 999A (western Caribbean) for the past 560 kyr in order to explore changes in paleoceanographic conditions in the western Caribbean Sea. Long-term trends in the percentage abundance of planktonic foraminifera in ODP Core 999A suggest two hydrographic scenarios: before and after 480 ka. High percentage abundances of Neogloboquadrina pachyderma and Globorotalia inflata, low abundances of Globorotalia menardii and Globorotalia truncatulinoides, low diversity, and sea-surface temperatures (SST) under 24 °C are typical characteristics occurring from 480 to 560 ka. These characteristics suggest a "shallow" well-oxygenated upper thermocline and the influx of nutrients by either seasonal upwelling plumes and/or eddy-mediated entrainment. The second scenario occurred after 480 ka, and it is characterized by high and fluctuating percentage abundances of Neogloboquadrina dutertrei, G. truncatulinoides, G. menardii, Globigerinita glutinata, Globigerinella siphonifera, and Globigerinoides ruber; a declining trend in diversity; and large SSTs. These characteristics suggest a steady change from conditions characterized by a "shallow" thermocline and chlorophyll maximum to conditions characterized by a "deep" thermocline (mainly during glacial stages) and by more oligotrophic conditions. The influence of the subtropical North Atlantic on the upper thermocline was apparently larger during glacial stages, thus favoring a deepening of the thermocline, an increase in sea-surface salinity, and a dramatic reduction of nutrients in the Guajira upwelling system. During interglacial stages, the influx of nutrients from the Magdalena River is stronger, thus resulting in a deep chlorophyll maximum and a fresher upper ocean. The eddy entrainment of nutrients is the probable mechanism responsible of transport from the Guajira upwelling and Magdalena River plumes into ODP 999A site.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-188
    Number of pages12
    JournalMarine Micropaleontology
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2007


    • Caribbean Sea
    • Colombia Basin
    • Guajira upwelling system
    • Late Pleistocene
    • Magdalena River
    • Paleoproductivity
    • Planktonic foraminifera


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