Master's Theses

Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

First Advisor

Steven Kidder

Second Advisor

Kimberly Meehan

Third Advisor

Marco Tedesco

Keywords

Denmark Strait, Arctic, Foraminifera

Abstract

Foraminifera occupy a geological range from the early Cambrian to the present day. Their well preserved shells, high relative abundance, and short response time to changing environmental conditions make foraminifera ideal proxies for environmental change. Benthic foraminifera are a valuable but poorly understood paleobiological proxy for the reconstruction of environmental conditions on continental shelves occupied by arctic and subarctic waters. This study identifies, examines, and quantifies calcareous benthic foraminiferal faunas from a sediment core taken from the Denmark Strait. Our analysis of three-thousand individuals from ten discrete samples aim to provide a better understanding of the modern patterns of foraminiferal distribution in the Denmark Strait, an important area in regulating climate. We find that the variability in foraminiferal taxa reflect changes in the environment, specifically current velocity, over the past (approximately) 600 years. The dominant genera, Cibicides, Elphidium, and Buccella, in the studied core have shown significant variability in abundance through time. The variability in these genera support a change from a warmer climate with stronger current velocities and meltwater influx (likely the Medieval Warm Period) to a cooler climate, with slower current velocities and less meltwater influx (most likely the Little Ice age), and finally a shift to our present day environment in which the climate in the region is warming due to anthropogenic impacts. Although more work needs to be done, it is clear that benthic foraminifera in the region respond to changing climate conditions and are valuable proxies for environmental change.

Included in

Geology Commons

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