1MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
2School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
3Institute of Geosciences, Department of Sedimentary and Environmental Geology, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
4Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Abstract. We investigate changes in the delivery and oceanic transport of Amazon sediments related to terrestrial climate variations over the last 250 ka. We present high-resolution geochemical records from four marine sediment cores located between 5 and 12° N along the northern South American margin. The Amazon River is the sole source of terrigenous material for sites at 5 and 9° N, while the core at 12° N receives a mixture of Amazon and Orinoco detrital particles. Using an endmember unmixing model, we estimated the relative proportions of Amazon Andean material ("%-Andes", at 5 and 9° N) and of Amazon material ("%-Amazon", at 12° N) within the terrigenous fraction. The %-Andes and %-Amazon records exhibit significant precessional variations over the last 250 ka that are more pronounced during interglacials in comparison to glacial times. High %-Andes values observed during periods of high austral summer insolation reflect the increased delivery of suspended sediments by Andean tributaries and enhanced Amazonian precipitation, in agreement with western Amazonian speleothem records. However, low %-Amazon values obtained at 12° N during the same periods seem to contradict the increased delivery of Amazon sediments. We propose that reorganisations in surface ocean currents modulate the northwestward transport of Amazon material. In agreement with published records, the seasonal North Brazil Current retroflection is intensified (or prolonged in duration) during cold substages of the last 250 ka (which correspond to intervals of high DJF or low JJA insolation) and deflects eastward the Amazon sediment and freshwater plume.