A 200-300 year cyclicity in sediment deposition in the Gotland Basin, Baltic Sea, as deduced from geochemical evidence

H. Kunzendorf, B. Larsen

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During the EU funded project BASYS (Baltic Sea System Study) short (Niemistö-type) and long (box and piston cores) sediment cores were taken which cover sedimentation during the past 8 ka. The uppermost part of the sedimentary sequence was chosen for a detailed geochemical study and freeze dried samples were analysed for about 20 elements but only the elements Mn and Ca are discussed. An age model was constructed using radiometric dating results by 210Pb/ 137Cs and 14C AMS. Significant correlation exists along the cores between very high Mn and moderately high Ca due to occrrences of the mineral rhodochrosite (kuthnahorite), a complex Mn(Ca) carbonate. This mineral is thought to be produced when salt water meets the pool of dissolved Mn at the bottom of the Gotland Basin. During favourable hydrographic conditions, e.g. strong northwesterly winds, salt water from the North Sea invades even the deepest parts of the central Baltic. Mn 2+ which is produced mainly by the dissolution of ferromanganse oxides/oxyhydroxides in the water colum and in the course of destruction of organic matter in the sediments, combines with HCO 3 2- and Ca 2+ in the seawater to form rhodochrosite. After burial, this mineral stays in the sediment and is seen as light-coloured layers. A certain cyclicity in the upper 1.5 m of the cores was observed in that about 200-300 a periods of elevated Mn - Ca are followed by periods with lower Mn - Ca of similar duration. An explanation for the observed cyclicity may be sea level variations: during rising sea level (transgression) more and more saline water is pushed into the deep basin of the Baltic Sea and if conditions are favourable (high dissolved Mn) the mineral rhodochrosite is precipitated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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