The diatom assemblage records preserved in a sedimentary core MD012404 retrieved from the Okinawa Trough in the East China Sea (ECS) imply palaeoenvironmental changes of the last 100 ka. Our statistical analyses of diatom species abundance data indicate that the assemblages dominate open ocean and warm water, coastal water and freshwater masses in the ECS. These proxy species were used to infer the long-term variation in surface hydrological conditions and palaeoclimate. Cycles of ca. 23 ka observed in the relative abundance of the tychopelagic species Paralia sulcata indicate that the increases in precipitation driven by solar insolation might have controlled the diatom assemblages in the ECS. The diatom records also indicate relatively low abundances of tropical, tychopelagic and freshwater species during millennial-scale cold events such as the Younger Dryas and Heinrich events, which have been well expressed in the high-latitude Northern Hemisphere climate. The floral patterns are interpreted as synchronous cooling and more saline sea surface conditions in the ECS caused by the enhanced Asian winter monsoon during the Northern Hemisphere cold events. The higher abundances of tropical species during deglaciation and the Holocene might have been linked to gradual increases in the inflow of the Kuroshio into the Okinawa Trough. The records also suggest a temporary reduction in tropical species from 5 to 3 ka, corresponding to the Pulleniatina Minimum Event during which the warm-water planktic foraminifer Pulleniatina obliquiloculata was rare.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)