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Atlantic Deep-water Response to the Early Pliocene Shoaling of the Central American Seaway

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Original languageEnglish
Article number12252
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2015

Abstract

The early Pliocene shoaling of the Central American Seaway (CAS), ~4.7-4.2 million years ago (mega annum-Ma), is thought to have strengthened Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). The associated increase in northward flux of heat and moisture may have significantly influenced the evolution of Pliocene climate. While some evidence for the predicted increase in North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation exists in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic, similar evidence is missing in the wider Atlantic. Here, we present stable carbon (δ(13)C) and oxygen (δ(18)O) isotope records from the Southeast Atlantic-a key region for monitoring the southern extent of NADW. Using these data, together with other δ(13)C and δ(18)O records from the Atlantic, we assess the impact of the early Pliocene CAS shoaling phase on deep-water circulation. We find that NADW formation was vigorous prior to 4.7 Ma and showed limited subsequent change. Hence, the overall structure of the deep Atlantic was largely unaffected by the early Pliocene CAS shoaling, corroborating other evidence that indicates larger changes in NADW resulted from earlier and deeper shoaling phases. This finding implies that the early Pliocene shoaling of the CAS had no profound impact on the evolution of climate.

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