Invariance of the carbonate chemistry of the South China Sea from the glacial period to the Holocene and its implications to the Pacific Ocean carbonate system

Highlights

  • The SCS carbonate chemistry didn’t change over the last glacial–interglacial cycle.
  • The SCS is not ocean dominated, or.
  • The Pacific carbonate chemistry did not change during the last GIT.
  • SCS CaCO3 content variations can be explained by altered lithogenic input.

Abstract

Substantial and correlated changes in marine carbonate (CaCO3) content of oceanic sediments commonly accompany the transitions from cold glacial periods to warm interglacial periods. The South China Sea (SCS) is said to be ocean-dominated at depth, and its CaCO3 records should reflect and preserve the effects of changes in the carbonate chemistry of the (western) Pacific Ocean. Using published and newly acquired CaCO3 data and a model for carbonate compensation dynamics, we show that a significant change with respect to carbonate saturation is unlikely to have occurred in the SCS during the last glacial–interglacial transition. Instead, the results from a carbonate deposition model argue that the saturation state of the SCS was largely invariant; a separate diagenetic model argues that changes in sediment CaCO3 content can be explained by alterations in lithogenic input. In turn, this could indicate that the carbonate ion concentration of the (western) Pacific at depths shallower than the sill to the SCS (ca. 2,400 m) has not changed appreciably between the last glacial period and the present interglacial.

Luo Y., Kienast M. & Boudreau B. P., 2018. Invariance of the carbonate chemistry of the South China Sea from the glacial period to the Holocene and its implications to the Pacific Ocean carbonate system. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 492: 112–120. Article (subscription required).

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