Paleoenvironmental changes on the northeastern and southwestern Black Sea shelves during the Holocene
Four paleoceanographic events are distinguished during the Holocene based on changes in macro- and microfossil assemblages studied from three sediment cores (Ak 521, 522, 2571) from the outer northeast shelf and from core MAR02-45 situated on the southwest shelf of the Black Sea, west to the Bosphorus. The lithology and fossils were previously studied from cores Ak 521 and Ak 522 and MAR02-45. However, high resolution ostracod analyses from the AMS-14C dated core, Ak 2571, allowed for a revision of the taxonomy and paleoecological interpretation of this microfaunal group on the NE shelf. Downcore changes in the relative abundance of the polyhaline ostracods are found to be contemporaneous in all three cores from the NE shelf. As a result, centennial-millennial scale fluctuations of the bottom-water salinity are resolved in the area. A broader scale examination of paleoenvironmental changes between the NE and SW shelves is also made and the surface to bottom salinity gradient is discussed. An uncalibrated radiocarbon based chronology is used throughout this paper to facilitate comparison with the regional chronostratigraphy of marine transgression and regressions in the Black Sea. The calibrated ages corrected for the changes in reservoir age through the Holocene are also provided. The first paleoceanographic event is associated with the pulse of Mediterranean water previously established at about 9.8–9.3 ka BP. This event is clearly observed in the SW region but not on the NE shelf due to a hiatus in the longest core, Ak 521. The second event is represented on both the NE and SW shelves as a replacement of brackish benthic fauna and surface phytoplankton with marine ones between 8.4 and 6.9 ka BP, indicating a gradual increase in salinity. The third event is marked by opposing trends in surface and bottom-water salinity changes. On the NE shelf, bottom-water salinity rose to modern values by ∼ 6.5 ka BP and then decreased within the interval ∼6.4–5.3 ka BP as recorded by the ostracod assemblages. On the SW shelf, surface-water salinity reached modern values by 5.6 ka BP and remained constant until present day as inferred from the dinoflagellate cyst assemblages. The fourth event is marked by a recurring increase in bottom-water salinity to modern values indicated by the polyhaline ostracod assemblages at ∼ 5.3 ka BP in the NE region, after which only minor salinity fluctuations are observed.
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