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One million years of Mediterranean outflow strength

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An orbitally tuned age model is established, based principally on sortable silt mean grainsize ( , proxy for flow speed), for sediments deposited under the influence of the Mediterranean Outflow (MO) at IODP Site U1389 in the Gulf of Cadiz. The possibility of tuning sortable silt grainsize to insolation was indicated by close agreement between these two parameters on an earlier isotopically-based age model for the upper 130 m of the core. This led to tuning of the whole 390 m-long record with addition of a magnetic susceptibility control at Marine Isotope Stage 16, and the last occurrence of R. asanoi datum at around 900 ka (now dated at 910 ka in this core). The strongest variability in is precessional with speed maxima at insolation minima superimposed on an increase in flow speed from 620 ka to the present. Although the Gibraltar sill exercises a major control on the inflow and outflow to the Mediterranean, there is little change in flow depth over most 20 ka precessional cycles, and therefore minor hydraulic control. Accelerations in average flow speed are also seen in interglacial to glacial (IG-G) cycles, particularly after 550 ka, with strong speed maxima at maximum glacial lowering of sealevel. This has allowed calculation of the sensitivity of flow speed to sea-level (SL) change of ~ 0.074 cm s-1/m. From 990 to 620 ka the average amplitude of precessional speed changes is 3.7 cm s-1, but this increases to 7.7 cm s-1 from 620 ka to present. Deep ocean flow speeds are mainly density driven. Previous work has demonstrated that the major drivers of this system’s density on precessional timescales are the evaporation - precipitation - inflow balance in the eastern Mediterranean plus cooling in the Gulf of Lions. Published benthic 18O for 125-235 ka (corrected for ice volume changes) which tracks the combination of seawater temperature and salinity that controls density, demonstrates that flow speed and density maxima are coincident for that period and probably for the whole record. Although precessional SL changes are too small to affect flow speed significantly, SL does control accelerations at glacial maxima because shallower flow depth reduces inflow and leads to longer evaporation time, resulting in increased outflow density and speed. The sensitivity of flow speed to sill depth changes has allowed estimation of the long-term shallowing of the Gibraltar sill of ~68 m over the last 620 ka in agreement with dated terrace uplift.



37 Earth Sciences, 3709 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience, 3705 Geology, 14 Life Below Water

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Quaternary Science Reviews

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Elsevier BV
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2023-10-12 08:10:20
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2023-08-09 23:31:52
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