A stratigraphic framework for eastern Labrador Sea cores has been developed for the interval 0–90 000 years BP through analysis of oxygen isotopes, volcanic ash, benthonic foraminifera, and the radiolarian Diplocyclas davisiana. Benthonic and planktonic foraminiferal isotope stratigraphy and the time scale of Shackleton and Opdyke provide a basis for the approximate dating of a series of marker events which include ash zones at ca. 59 000 and ≤ 21 000 years BP; benthonic foraminiferal abundance maxima at ca. 83 000, 75 000, 60 000, 19 000, and 3000 years BP; and D. davisiana percentage maxima at ca. 90 000, 73 000, 64 000, 54 000, 45 000 – 32 000, and 10 000 years BP. Incursions of subpolar planktonic foraminifera into the area during parts of isotopic stage 2 (between about 13 000 and 25 000 years BP but probably excluding the 15 000–18 000 years BP glacial maximum interval) and during the isotopic stage 4/5a transition (around 75 000 years BP) suggest that the eastern Labrador Sea was free of sea ice, at least in summer during periods of rapid continental ice sheet growth which lead to the isotopic stage 4 and stage 2 glacial maxima. A larger than normal stage 1/stage 2 difference in the isotopic composition of benthonic foraminifera (1.8‰) implies that this open water and attendant surface cooling was a potential source for colder than modern deep water. In contrast the Norwegian Sea was a reservoir of warmer than modern deep water during the last glacial.

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