Skip to main content Accessibility help

A 5000-yr Record of Climate Change in Varved Sediments from the Oxygen Minimum Zone off Pakistan, Northeastern Arabian Sea

  • Ulrich von Rad (a1), Michael Schaaf (a2), Klaus H. Michels (a1), Hartmut Schulz (a1), Wolfgang H. Berger (a3) and Frank Sirocko (a4)...


The upper Holocene marine section from a kasten core taken from the oxygen minimum zone off Karachi (Pakistan) at water depth 700 m contains continuously laminated sediments with a sedimentation rate of 1.2 mm/yr and a unique record of monsoonal climatic variability covering the past 5000 years. Our chronostratigraphy is based on varve counts verified by conventional and AMS14C dating. Individual hemipelagic varve couplets are about 0.8–1.5 mm thick, with light-colored terrigenous laminae (A) deposited mainly during the winter monsoon alternating with dark-colored laminae (B) rich in marine organic matter, coccoliths, and fish debris that reflect deposition during the high-productivity season of the late summer monsoon (August–October). Precipitation and river runoff appear to control varve thickness and turbidite frequency. We infer that precipitation decreased in the river watershed (indicated by thinning varves) after 3500–4000 yr B.P. This is about the time of increasing aridification in the Near East and Middle East, as documented by decreasing Nile River runoff data and lake-level lowstands between Turkey and northwestern India. This precipitation pattern continued until today with precipitation minima about 2200–1900 yr B.P., 1000 yr B.P., and in the late Middle Ages (700–400 yr B.P.), and precipitation maxima in the intervening periods. As documented by spectral analysis, the thickness of varve couplets responds to the average length of a 250-yr cycle, a 125-yr cycle, the Gleissberg cycle of solar activity (95 yr), and a 56-yr cycle of unknown origin. Higher frequency cycles are also present at 45, 39, 29–31, and 14 yr. The sedimentary gray-value also shows strong variability in the 55-yr band plus a 31-yr cycle. Because high-frequency cyclicity in the ENSO band (ca. 3.5 and 5 yr) is only weakly expressed, our data do not support a straightforward interaction of the Pacific ENSO with the monsoon-driven climate system of the Arabian Sea.



Hide All
Aniol, R.W. (1983). Tree-ring analysis CATRAS. Dendrochronologia 1, 4553.
Banse, K. (1994). On the coupling of hydrography, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and settling organic particles offshore in the Arabian Sea. Biogeochemistry of the Arabian Seap. 125–161
Behl, R.J., Kennett, J.P., Baldauf, J.G., and Lyle, M. (1995). Sedimentary facies and sedimentology of the late Quaternary Santa Barbara Basin, Site 893.295308.
Behl, R.J., and Kennett, J.P. (1996). Brief interstadial events in the Santa Barabara Basin, NE Pacific, during the past 60 kyr. Nature 379, 243246.
Biondi, F., Lange, C.B., Hughes, M.K., and Berger, W.H. (1997). Inter-decadal signals during the last millenium (AD 1117–1992) in the varve record of Santa Barbara Basin, California. Geophysical Research Letters 24, 193196.
Bryson, R.A. Proxy indications of Holocene winter rains in southwest Asia compared with simulated rainfall.Dalfes, H.N. (1996). Third Millenium B. C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse. NATO ASI Series I 49, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.465473.
Codispoti, L.A. (1991). Primary productivity and carbon and nitrogen cycling in the Arabian Sea. U.S. JGOFS Planning Reportp. 75–85
Gasse, F., and Van Campo, E. (1994). Abrupt post-glacial climate events in West Asia and North Africa monsoon domains. Earth Planetary Science Letters 126, 435456.
Grootes, P.M., and Stuiver, M. (1997). 18 16 3 5 . Journal of Geophysical Research 102, 26,45526,470.
Hassan, F.A. Nile floods and political disorder in early Egypt.Dalfes, H.N. (1996). Third Millenium B. C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse. NATO ASI Series I 49, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.123.
Hastenrath, S., and Lamb, P.J. (1979). Climatic Atlas of the Indian Ocean. Part I. Surface Climate and Atmospheric Circulation. Univ. of Wisconsin Press, Madison.
Heusser, L.E., and Sirocko, F. (1997). Millenial pulsing of environmental change in southern California from the past 24 k.y.: A record of Indo-Pacific ENSO events. Geology 25, 243246.
Hole, F. Evidence for mid-Holocene environmental change in the western Khabur Drainage, northeastern Syria.Dalfes, H.N. (1996). Third Millenium B. C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse. NATO ASI Series I 49, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.3966.
Kemp, A.E.S. (1996). Palaeoclimatology and palaeoceanography from laminated sediments. Geological Society (London), Special Publication 1258.
Kempe, S., and Degens, E.T. (1979). Varves in the Black Sea and Lake Van (Turkey).Schlüchter, C. Moraines and Varves Balkema, Zürich.308318.
Lange, C.B., Burke, S.K., and Berger, W.H. (1990). Biological production off southern California is linked to climatic change. Climatic Change 16, 319329.
Lemcke, G., Sturm, M. δ18 .Dalfes, H.N.(1996). Third Millenium B. C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse. NATO ASI Series I 49, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.653678.
Overpeck, J.T. Varved sediment records of recent seasonal to millenial-scale environmental variability.Jones, P.D. (1996). Climatic Variations and Forcing Mechanisms of the Last 2000 Years. NATO ASI Series 131, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, Berlin.479498.
Overpeck, J.T., Anderson, D., Trumbore, S., and Prell, W. (1996). The southwest Indian monsoon over the last 18,000 years. Climate Dynamics 12, 213225.
Paillard, D., Labeyrie, L., and Yiou, P. (1996). Macintosh program performs time-series analysis. EOS Transactions American Geophysical Union 77, 379
Petit-Maire, N., Sanlaville, P., and Yan, Zwongwei (1995). Oscillations de la limite nord du domaine des moussons Africaine, Indienne, et Asiatique, au cours du dernier cycle climatique. Bulletin Societé géologique France 166, 213220.
Philander, S.G. (1990). El Niño, La Niña, and the Southern Oscillation. Academic Press, San Diego.
Pike, J., and Kemp, A.E.S. (1996). Preparation and analysis techniques for studies of laminated sediments.Kemp, A.E.S. Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoceanography from Laminated Sediments 157170.
Possehl, G.L. Climate and the eclipse of the ancient cities of the Indus.Dalfes, H.N. (1996). Third Millennium B. C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse. NATO ASI Series I 49, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.193243.
Quinn, W.H. (1992). A study of southern oscillation-related climatic variability for A. D. 622–1900 incorporating Nile River flood data.Diaz, H.E., Markgraf, V. El Niño: Historical and Paleoclimatic Aspects of Southern Oscillation Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.119149.
Quinn, W.H., and Neal, V.T. (1995). The historical record of El Nino events.Bradley, R.S., Jones, P.D. Climate since A.D. 1500 Routledge, London, New York.623648.
Rao, Y.B. (1981). The climate of the Indian Subcontinent.Takahashi, K., Arakawa, H. World Survey of Climatology Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Rivas-Koslowski, M. (1995). Digitale Grauwertanalyse an laminierten Sedimenten aus der Sauerstoffminimumzone im nördlichen Arabischen Meer vor Pakistan (SONNE-Fahrt SO-90 PAKOMIN). Ruhr-Universität BochumGeologisches Institut,
Savrda, C.E., Bottjer, D.J., and Gorsline, D.S. (1984). Development of a comprehensive oxygen-deficient marine biofacies model: Evidence from Santa Monica, San Pedro, and Santa Barabara Basins, California Continental Borderland. Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 89, 11791192.
Schaaf, M. (1995). Digital Sediment Color Analysis: Development and Application to Holocene and Late Pleistocene Sediments from East Pacific DSDP/ODP sites. Ruhr-University Bochum,
Schaaf, M., and Thurow, J. (1994). A fast and easy method to derive highest-resolution time-series data sets from drill cores and rock samples. Sedimentary Geology 94, 110.
Schaaf, M., and Thurow, J. (1997). Tracing short cycles in long records—The study of interannual to inter-centennial climate change from long sediment records, examples from the Santa Barbara Basin. Journal of the Geological Society, London 154, 613622.
Schimmelmann, A., and Lange, C.B. (1996). The tale of 1001 varves: A review of Santa Barbara Basin sediment studies.Kemp, A.E. Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoceanography from Laminated Sediments 121142.
Schönwiese, C. (1995). Klimaänderungen: Daten, Analysen, Prognosen. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Schulz, H., von Rad, U., and von Stackelberg, U. (1996). Laminated sediments from the Oxygen-Minimum Zone of the Northeastern Arabian Sea.Kemp, A.E.S. Paleoclimatology and Paleoceanography from Laminated Sediments 185207.
Singh, G., Wasson, R.J., and Agrawal, D.P. (1990). Vegetational and seasonal climatic changes since the last full glacial in the Thar Desert, northwestern India. Review of Paleobotany and Palynology 64, 351358.
Sirocko, F., Garbe-Schönberg, D., McIntyre, A., and Molfino, B. (1996). Teleconnections between the subtropical monsoons and high-latitude climates during the last deglaciation. Science 272, 526529.
Sirocko, F., Sarnthein, M. Wind-borne deposits in the northwestern Indian Ocean: Record of Holocene sediments versus modern satellite data.Leinen, M., and Sarnthein, M. (1989). Paleoclimatology and Paleometerology: Modern and Past Patterns of Global Atmospheric Transport. NATO ASI Series C 282, 322401.
Stager, J.C., Cumming, B., and Meeker, L. (1997). A high-resolution 11,400-yr diatom record from Lake Victoria, East Africa. Quaternary Research 47, 8189.
Stuiver, M., and Braziunas, T.F. (1993). Modelling atmospheric14 . Radiocarbon 35, 137189.
Swain, A.M., Kutzbach, J.E., and Hastenrath, S. (1983). Estimates of Holocene precipitation for Rajasthan, India, based on pollen and lake-level data. Quaternary Research 19, 117.
(1996). U.S. NAVY/National Climatic Data Center.Global Tropical/Extratropical Cyclone Climatic Atlas
von Rad, U., and Schulz, H. (1995). Sampling the Oxygen Minimum Zone off Pakistan: Glacial/Interglacial variations of anoxia and productivity. Marine Geology 125, 719.
U., von Rad, Schulz, H., Riech, V., M., den Dulk, Berner, U., Sirocko, F. Repeated monsoon-controlled breakdown of oxygen-minimum conditions during the past 30,000 years documented in laminated sediments off Pakistan.Palaeogeography,Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology,
von Stackelberg, U. (1972). Faziesverteilung in Sedimenten des indisch-pakistanischen Kontinentalrandes (Arabisches Meer). “Meteor”-Forschung-Ergebnisse, Reihe C 9, 173.
Vose, R. S., Schmoyer, R. L.. Steurer, P. M.. Peterson, T. C., . Heim, R., . Karl, T. R., . Eischeid, J., (1992). The Global Historical Climatology network: Long-term monthly temperature, precipitation, sea level pressure, and station pressure data. National Climatic Data Center (NOAA), Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Wang, L., Sarnthein, M.,Erlenkeuser, H.,Grimalt, J.,Grootes, P.,Heilig, S.,Ivanova, E.,Kienast, M.,Pelejero, C.,Pflaumann, U.,East Asian monsoon climate during the late Pleistocene: High-resolution sediment records from the South China Sea, Marine Geology Special Issue.
Wasson, R.J., Smith, G.I., and Agrawal, D.P. (1984). Late Quaternary sediments, minerals and inferred geochemical history of Didwana Lake, Thar Desert, India (1984). Palaeogeography, Paleoclimatology, Palaeoecology 4, 345372.
Weatcroft, R.A., Sommerfield, C.K., Drake, D.E., Borgeld, J.C., and Nittrouer, C.A. (1997). Rapid and widespread dispersal of flood sediment on the northern California margin. Geology 25, 163166.
Weiss, H. Late third millenium abrupt climate change and social collapse in West Asia and Egypt.Dalfes, H.N. (1996). Third Millenium B. C. Climate Change and Old World Collapse. NATO ASI Series I 49, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.711723.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

A 5000-yr Record of Climate Change in Varved Sediments from the Oxygen Minimum Zone off Pakistan, Northeastern Arabian Sea

  • Ulrich von Rad (a1), Michael Schaaf (a2), Klaus H. Michels (a1), Hartmut Schulz (a1), Wolfgang H. Berger (a3) and Frank Sirocko (a4)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.