Sediment focusing in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean

Franco Marcantonio, Robert F. Anderson, Sean Higgins, Martin Stute, Peter Schlosser, Peter Kubik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


At four sites in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean the flux of extraterrestrial 3He, determined using the excess 230Th profiling method, is 8 x 10-13 cm-2 STP cm-2 ka-1. This supply rate is constant to within 30%. At these same sites, however, the burial rate of 3He, determined using chronostratigraphic accumulation rates, varies by more than a factor of 3. The lowest burial rates, which occur north of the equator at 1cN, 139°W are lower than the global average rate of supply of extraterrestrial 3He by 20% and indicate that sediment winnowing may have occurred. The highest burial rates, which are recorded at the equator and at 2°S, are higher than the rate of supply of extraterrestrial 3He by 100%, and these provide evidence for sediment focusing. By analyzing several proxies measured in core PC72 sediments spanning the past 450 kyr we demonstrate that periods of maximum burial rates of 230Th, 3He, 10Be, Ti, and barite, with a maximum peak-to-trough amplitude of a factor of 6, take place systematically during glacial time. However, the ratio of any one proxy to another is constant to within 30% over the entire length of the records. Given that each proxy represents a different source (234U decay in seawater, interplanetary dust, upper atmosphere, continental dust, or upper ocean), our preferred interpretation for the covariation is that the climate-related changes in burial rates are driven by changes in sediment focusing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-267
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology


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