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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 18 Jul 2018

Research article | 18 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Extreme lowering of deglacial seawater radiocarbon content is recorded by both epifaunal and infaunal benthic foraminifera

Patrick A. Rafter1, Juan-Carlos Herguera2, and John R. Southon1 Patrick A. Rafter et al.
  • 1Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 2Centro de Investigación Cientifica y Educación Superior de Ensenada, Mexico

Abstract. For over a decade, oceanographers have debated the interpretation and reliability of sediment microfossil records indicating extremely low seawater radiocarbon (14C) during the last deglaciation-observations that suggest a major disruption in marine carbon cycling coincident with rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Possible flaws in these records include poor age model controls, utilization of mixed, infaunal foraminifera species possibly influenced by changing porewater chemistry, and bioturbation. We have addressed these concerns using a glacial-interglacial record of epifaunal benthic foraminifera 14C on an ideal sedimentary age model (wood calibrated to atmosphere 14C). Our results affirm – with important caveats – the fidelity of these microfossil archives and confirm previous observations of highly depleted seawater 14C at intermediate depths in the deglacial northeast Pacific.

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Patrick A. Rafter et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Carbon’s radioactive isotope ("radiocarbon") is a useful tool for oceanographers investigating carbon cycling in the modern ocean and ice age oceans (using foraminifera microfossils). Here we used sediment cores with excellent age constraints and anomalously abundant foraminifera microfossils to examine the inter-species radiocarbon differences. All species demonstrate the same extreme radiocarbon depletion and we argue these observations represent important changes in seawater carbon chemistry.
Carbon’s radioactive isotope ("radiocarbon") is a useful tool for oceanographers investigating...