Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 32 Issue 01

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Volume 32, No. 1
Pages 60 - 63


Finding Dry Spells in Ocean Sediments

By Stephen J. Gallagher  and Peter B. deMenocal 
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Article Abstract

Ocean basins are the ultimate repositories of sediment. Their slow, continuous accumulation over geologic history provides valuable archives that document major climate events and transitions in Earth history. Mineral dust plumes borne by prevailing winds are dominant sources of terrigenous sedimentation off regions such as the Saharan, Arabian, Kalahari, Patagonian, and Australian deserts. Scientific ocean drilling off Africa and Arabia has recorded consistent glacial-stage increases in eolian dust fluxes throughout the Pliocene-Pleistocene, where elevated dust flux values during glacial periods and stadia have been interpreted as reflecting real hydroclimate progression toward greater glacial aridity. International Ocean Discovery Program Expeditions 356, 363, and 369 (conducted in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively) recovered extensive sedimentary climate archives off Australia. Ongoing analyses of these strata reveal a marine record of the onset of continental aridity as Australia migrated northward by 25° over the last 50 million years. These Southern Hemisphere oceanic records will continue to yield key information on global climate evolution, allowing us to understand how deserts and monsoonal systems have evolved through time.


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