Comparing paleo-oxygenation proxies (benthic foraminiferal surface porosity, I/Ca, authigenic uranium) on modern sediments and the glacial Arabian Sea

TitleComparing paleo-oxygenation proxies (benthic foraminiferal surface porosity, I/Ca, authigenic uranium) on modern sediments and the glacial Arabian Sea
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsLu, W, Wang, Y, Oppo, DW, Nielsen, SG, Costa, KM
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Pagination69 - 85
Date Published08/2022
ISBN Number0016-7037
Keywords13 Climate Action

Oceanic oxygen reconstructions of the last glacial period are needed to understand the mechanisms of glacial deep ocean carbon storage and to validate climate model simulations. However, existing bottom-water oxygen (BWO) reconstructions are ambiguous due to limitations of each paleo-BWO proxy. Here we present data on three proxies for BWO: benthic foraminiferal surface porosity, benthic foraminiferal iodine/calcium (I/Ca), and authigenic uranium (aU), from globally distributed core-top samples, and we evaluate the potential advantages and limitations of these BWO proxies on global and regional scales. All three proxies are most sensitive to changes at relatively low BWO concentrations (<∼50 µmol/kg). Data from globally-distributed core tops confirm that foraminiferal surface porosity is correlated with BWO between 0 and 100 µmol/kg. Our analysis further confirms that benthic surface porosity is predominantly controlled directly by BWO rather than other potential functionalities of surface pores such as organic carbon uptake and respiratory CO2 release. Low benthic I/Ca can identify low BWO (<50 µmol/kg), whereas higher benthic I/Ca values are not associated with specific BWO, possibly due to additional dependence of I/Ca on temperature, salinity, carbonate ion concentration, or water mass mixing at higher BWO. The relationship between aU and BWO is regionally dependent. In the Arabian Sea, variable aU enrichments occur only within the Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ), driven by high export production and organic matter fluxes to the sediment. Finally, we combine foraminiferal surface porosity, I/Ca and aU to generate the first quantitative glacial-Holocene BWO reconstructions using a sediment core taken from within the modern Arabian Sea OMZ. All three proxies consistently suggest BWO < 50 μmol/kg in the shallow Arabian Sea during the last ∼30 kyr, with relatively higher BWO during the glacial period than the Holocene. A comparison with the benthic carbon isotope gradient proxy (Δδ13C) confirms that Δδ13C over-estimates BWO in low-oxygen settings possibly due to sediment diagenesis impacts. Our study provides new insights on the merits and limitations of these BWO proxies and confirms the importance of multi-proxy reconstructions for more reliable paleo-BWO estimates.