Effects of the Younger Dryas climate event recorded in sediment near the western Irish seaboard

Abstract

Results of analyses of a shallow marine sediment vibrocore from the Atlantic seafloor just west of the Aran Islands, western Ireland, are presented. The sediments range from ~16,000 to younger than 9,000 cal BP in age, based on 14C dating of foraminifers and molluscs. One sample within the core is dated at 12804 ± 125 cal BP and lies a very short distance stratigraphically below a conspicuous horizon containing isolated pebbles and sand-size clasts, in what is an otherwise fine-grained sequence of sediment. These outsized clasts are interpreted to be ice-rafted debris. Approximately coeval with this horizon, the diversity and abundance of foraminifers decrease significantly and the foraminifer Nonionellina labradorica makes its first appearance in the core sediment. Stable isotope analysis shows a significant increase in values of δ18O approaching the horizon containing ice-rafted debris. These results show the effects of a relatively sudden cooling of this part of the Atlantic Ocean at middle latitudes coincident with, or just after, the onset of the Younger Dryas event and demonstrate the extent of floating icebergs and probable later pack ice as a result of this temperature decrease.

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