Late Pleistocene to Holocene productivity changes in the western equatorial Pacific (Sulu Sea, Philippines) from calcareous nannofossils

TitleLate Pleistocene to Holocene productivity changes in the western equatorial Pacific (Sulu Sea, Philippines) from calcareous nannofossils
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsTangunan, DN, Peleo-Alampay, AM
JournalMarine Micropaleontology
Pagination1 - 11
Date PublishedJan-09-2018
Keywordsarabian sea, EAST-ASIAN MONSOON, GLOBAL YOUNGER-DRYAS, indian-ocean, last deglaciation, OCEANIC PRIMARY PRODUCTION, south china sea, surface sediments, UPWELLING SYSTEM, YR BP

We present a new calcareous nannofossil paleoproductivity reconstruction of the southeastern margin of the Sulu Sea to understand how marine productivity varied through time in one of the major fishing grounds of the Philippine archipelago. The study is based on two sediment cores obtained from two different hydrographic locations in the western equatorial Pacific region: an upwelling region off Zamboanga Peninsula (U-GC12) and a non-upwelling area off Panay Island (NU-GC14), covering the past 18,000 years before present (B.P.). Calcareous nannofossil assemblages in the investigated areas were of low diversity and largely dominated by Gephyrocapsa oceanica and Florisphaera profwida, followed by small placolith-bearing taxa, Emiliania hwcleyi, small Gephyrocapsa, and Reticulofenestra minuta. Upwelling episodes off the Zamboanga Peninsula were recorded several times in the past as shown by an increase in the abundance of high productivity indicator species (G. oceanica, small Gephyrocapsa, E. hwcleyi) and of bulk sediment CaCO3 (%), and a concomitant decline in the total organic carbon (TOC; %). The high abundance of low surface water productivity species F. profunda and Umbellosphaera irregularis indicates a stratified water column with a deeper nutricline, probably caused by the reduced upwelling intensity. This condition was corroborated by the decrease in CaCO3 (%) and an increase in TOC (%). We propose that the modern day high productivity conditions off Zamboanga Peninsula started at 2500 years B.P., whereas the low productivity off Panay Island was recorded from 4000 years B.P., and persists to the present day. Evidence of the Younger Dryas (YD) event was recorded from 11,100 to 10,400 years B.P. in UGC12, synchronous to the YD event reported from other areas in the Northern Hemisphere, and in accordance with the timing in the Sulu Sea as reported from previous studies in this region. This event in the Sulu Sea is characterized by a decrease in total nannofossil abundance and estimated primary productivity, together with an increase in CaCO3 (%) and a decrease in TOC (%). We interpreted that dilution caused by the increase in precipitation experienced in the Southeast Asian region during the YD event could have led to the decline of the total calcareous nannofossils whereas the recorded increase in CaCO3 (%) is attributed to the high abundance of planktonic foraminifera during this interval.