Abstract

Multiproxy analysis of a 38 m long sediment core recovered from the Vancouver Island margin (48.97°N, 127.04°W, water depth 1243 m) has yielded a millennial-scale history of upwelling and export production over the last ∼50 ka. Higher concentrations of marine organic carbon, opal, and trace Mo suggest that production was higher, and sedimentary pore waters more anoxic, during the warm Holocene, Bølling–Allerød, and interstadial events between 31 and 44 ka BP. Relatively lower production and higher inputs of terrigenous organic matter occurred during the last glacial (14.7–31 ka BP; Cordilleran ice sheet proximal to coring site at ∼19.5 ka BP) and from 44–50.4 ka BP. Enrichments in sedimentary δ15N during interstadial events are interpreted to reflect episodic delivery and upwelling of isotopically heavy nitrate to the surface waters and subsequent vectoring to the seafloor via settling planktonic detritus. Similar patterns are seen in southern California and other areas along the western margin of North America, implying that heavier nitrate generated by denitrification in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific has in the past been carried northward in the California Undercurrent at least as far as central Vancouver Island. This inference is consistent with modern hydrographic observations in the region. Comparison of the coherent Vancouver Island, Oregon, California, and northwest Mexico margin records with late Pleistocene climate history in Greenland reinforces the conclusion that a tight physical and biogeochemical coupling has existed for at least 50 ka between the North Atlantic and North American margin waters, including those off Vancouver Island.

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