Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Distribution of Quartz in Late Quaternary Atlantic Sediments in Relation to Climate*

  • Venkatarathnam Kolla (a1), Pierre E. Biscaye (a1) and Adele F. Hanley (a1)

The distribution of quartz in the surface sediments of the Atlantic Ocean reflects derivation from continents by means of rivers, wind, ice, and coastal erosion. Enrichment of quartz thus supplied has occurred in some deep basins of especially the southern high latitudes from winnowing of finegrained clays by bottom currents. Although similar modes of quartz transport may have operated both during the Holocene and the last glacial maximum (18,000 yr B.P.), significant differences in the intensity of transport and in the locii of deposition, which are attributable to climatic variations during these times, exist in some areas of the Atlantic. In Holocene sediments of the eastern equatorial Atlantic, a band of high percent quartz exists directly off the present Saharan Desert and Sahel region and reflects the trade-wind transport of dusts from these arid and semiarid regions. During the last glacial maximum (18,000 yr B.P.), this high quartz band expanded southward by about 8° of latitude. This expansion was caused not only by the southward expansion of aridity and desert dunes but also by the southward migration of the northerly belt of trade winds during the last glaciation. Relatively high abundances and accumulation rates of quartz during the last glaciation suggest higher intensities of trade winds during that time compared to the Holocene. In the North Atlantic, the abundances of quartz in Holocene sediments are high adjacent to Greenland-Iceland and in the areas off Newfoundland-Labrador, and gradually decrease toward the central areas. The polar front and limit of sea-ice melting are at present confined to the northern part of the North Atlantic. The ice-rafting of quartz grains is, therefore, effective in the areas adjacent to Greenland and to some extent off Labrador causing high abundances in these areas. In contrast to this, during the last glaciation, the quartz abundances and accumulation rates are high in the central areas of North Atlantic around 45°N and decrease toward Greenland-Newfoundland. The migration of the polar front to as far south as 45°N and the consequent southward migration of sea-ice melting and ice-rafting during the last glaciation apparently caused this change in distribution. In addition to ice-rafting at present, wave or current reworking of relict glacial-marine detritus may have caused the high abundance of quartz in the surface sediments off Newfoundland-Labrador. In 18,000 yr B.P. sediments of the Norwegian Sea, the area of high percent quartz (>10%) is more extensive than that in Holocene sediments. This reflects the greater influence of ice-rafting or glacier activity in the sediment dispersal in the Norwegian Sea during the last glacial times.

Hide All

Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory Contribution No. 2768.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A.I. Beltagy , R. Chester , R.C. Padgham , (1972). The particle-size distribution of quartz in some North Atlantic deep-sea sediments. Marine Geology. 13, 297-310.

P.E. Biscaye , (1965). Mineralogy and sedimentation of recent deep-sea clay in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas and oceans. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 76, 803-832.

P.E. Biscaye , S.L. Eittreim , (1977). Suspended particulate loads and transport in the nepheloid layer of the abyssal Atlantic Ocean. Marine Geology. 23, 155-172.

E. Bonatti , S. Gartner Jr., (1973). Caribbean climate during Pleistocene ice ages. Nature. 244, 563-565.

T.N. Carlson , J.M. Prospero , (1972). The largescale movement of Saharan air outbreaks over the northern Equatorial Atlantic. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 11, 283-297.

R. Chester , L.R. Johnson , (1971). Atmospheric dusts collected off the Atlantic coast of North Africa and Iberian Peninsula. Marine Geology. 11, 251-260.

R. Chester , H. Elderfield , J.J. Griffin , L.R. Johnson , R.C. Padgham , (1972). Aeolin dust along the eastern margin of the Atlantic Ocean. Marine Geology. 13, 91-105.

J.R. Conolly , H.D. Needham , B.C. Heezen , (1967). Late Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentation in the Laurentian Channel. Journal of Geology. 75, 131-147.

J.E. Damuth , (1977). Late Quaternary sedimentation in the western Atlantic. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 88, 695-710.

J.E. Damuth , R.W. Fairbridge , (1970). Equatorial Atlantic deep-sea arkosic sands and ice-age aridity in tropical South America. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 81, 189-206.

A.C. Delaney , A.C. Delaney , D.W. Parkin , J.J. Griffin , E.D. Goldberg , B.E.F. Reimann , (1967). Airborne dust collected at Barbados. Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta. 31, 885-909.

L. Diester-Haass , (1976). Late Quaternary climatic variations in Northwest Africa deduced from east Atlantic sediment cores. Quaternary Research. 6, 299-314.

D.G. Ericson , M. Ewing , G. Wollin , B.C. Heezen , (1961). Atlantic deep-sea sediment cores. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 72, 193-286.

M. Ewing , S.L. Eittreim , J. Ewing , X. Le Pichon , (1971). Sediment transport and distribution in the Argentine Basin. 3. Nepheloid layer and processes of sedimentation. L.H. Ahrens , F. Press , S.K. Runcan , H.C. Urey , Physics and Chemistry of the Earth. Vol. 8, 49-77.

W.L. Gates , 1976a. Modelling the ice-age climate. Science. 191, 1138-1144.

W.L. Gates , 1976b. The numerical simulation of ice-age climate with a global general circulation model. Journal of Atmospheric Sciences. 33, 1844-1873.

E.D. Goldberg , J.J. Griffin , (1964). Sedimentation rates and mineralogy in the South Atlantic. Journal of Geophysical Research. 69, 4293-4309.

D.A. Johnson , S.E. McDowell , L.G. Sullivan , P.E. Biscaye , (1976). Abyssal hydrography, nephelometry, currents, and benthic boundary layer structure in the Vema Channel. Journal of Geophysical Research. 81, 5771-5786.

T.B. Kellogg , (1976). Late Quaternary climatic changes: Evidence from deep-sea cores of Norwegian and Greenland Seas. R.M. Cline , J.D. Hays , Investigations of Late Quaternary Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. Memoir 145. Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colo, 77-110.

S. Manabi , J.L. Halloway Jr., (1975). The seasonal variation of the hydrologic cycle as simulated by a global model of the atmosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research. 80, 1617-1649.

S. Manabi , D.G. Hahn , (1977). Simulation of the tropical climate of an ice age. Journal of Geophysical Research. 82, 3889-3911.

C. Parmenter , D.W. Folger , (1974). Aeolian biogenic detritus in deep-sea sediments: a possible index of equatorial ice-age aridity. Science. 185, 695-698.

D.W. Parkin , (1974). Trade winds during glacial cycles. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A. 337, 73-100.

D.W. Parkin , N.J. Shackelton , (1973). Trade wind and temperature correlations down a deep-sea core off the Sahara Coast. Nature. 245, 455-457.

D.W. Parkin , R.C. Padgham , (1975). Further studies on trade winds during the glacial cycles. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A. 346, 245-260.

J.M. Prospero , T.N. Carlson , (1972). Vertical and areal distribution of Saharan dust over the western equatorial North Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Research. 77, 5255-5265.

J.M. Prospero , E. Bonatti , C. Schubert , T.N. Carlson , (1970). Dust in the Caribbean atmosphere traced to an African dust storm. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 9, 287-293.

J.M. Prospero , R.T. Nees , (1977). Dust concentration in the atmosphere of the equatorial North Atlantic: possible relationship to the Sahelian drought. Science. 196, 1196-1198.

W.F. Ruddiman , 1977a. North Atlantic ice-rafting; A major change at 75,000 years before the present. Science. 196, 1208-1211.

W.F. Ruddiman , 1977b. Late Quaternary deposition of ice-rafted sand in the sub-polar North Atlantic (40°N–65°N). Geological Society of America Bulletin. 88, 1813-1827.

W.F. Ruddiman , F.A. Bowles , (1976). Early interglacial bottom current sedimentation on the Reykjanes Ridge. Marine Geology. 21, 191-210.

W.F. Ruddiman , A. McIntyre , (1976). Northeast Atlantic paleoclimatic changes over the last 600,000 years. R.M. Cline , J.D. Hays , Investigation of Late Quaternary Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. Memoir 145. Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colo, 111-147.

M. Sarnthein , (1978). Sand deser's during glacial maximum and climatic optimum. Nature. 272, 43-46.

M. Sarnthein , E. Walger , (1974). Der äolische Sandstrom aus der West-Sahara zur Atlantik Küste. Geologische Rundschau. 63, 1065-1087.

R. Till , D.A. Spears , (1969). The determination of quartz in sedimentary rocks using an x-ray diffraction method. Clays and Clay Minerals. 17, 323-327.

J. Williams , R.G. Barry , W.M. Washington , (1974). Simulation of the atmospheric circulation using the NCAR Global circulation model with ice age boundary conditions. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 13, 305-317.

M.A.J. Williams , (1975). Late Pleistocene tropical aridity synthronous in both hemispheres?. Nature. 253, 617-618.

R.A. Young , C.D. Hollister , (1974). Quaternary sedimentation on the northwest African continental rise. Journal of Geology. 82, 675-689.

H.B. Zimmerman , (1972). Sediments of the New England continental rise. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 83, 3709-3724.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Abstract views

Total abstract views: 30 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 25th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.