What do Δ14C changes across the Gerzensee oscillation/GI-1b event imply for deglacial oscillations?

C.S. Andresen, S. Björck, O. Bennike, J. Heinemeier, B. Kromer

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High-resolution studies were performed on late-glacial sediments from a small lake in western Denmark with respect to lithology, geochemistry, stable isotopes, pollen stratigraphy and radiocarbon dating on terrestrial macrofossils. One purpose was to detect the so-called Gerzensee oscillation, or the GI-1b event, in the later part of the Allerod warm period, and to describe the environmental impact of this short cooling. The other aim was to test the hypothesis that considerable Δ14C changes occur over this time, which can be related to ocean ventilation/thermohaline circulation changes. We find that the GI-1b event had a major impact on both terrestrial and limnic ecosystems: large vegetation changes, increased soil erosion and lowered aquatic production. By correlations to events in the GRIP ice-core and 14C patterns in the Cariaco basin we also transformed our 14C dated record into calendar years to calculate Δ14C values. The 14C dates show that the GI-1b event both preceded, and was part of, the 11 400-11 300 14C yr BP radiocarbon plateau, and was followed by the 11 000-10 900 14C yr BP plateau; thus the later part of the event coincides with a distinct age decline. This delayed age drop (Δ14C rise) in relation to the hypothetical triggering mechanism behind the event, decreased ocean ventilation, could be explained by redeposited macrofossils at the onset of GI-1b. This phenomenon, also seen at the onset of Younger Dryas, may also reflect increased soil erosion and redeposition at the start of cold periods. The independent Cariaco Basin record, however, implies that the very end of the cool GI-1b event is related to a distinct rise in Δ14C. Likewise, the 10Be record from GISP2 shows a distinct rise in the middle of the event, precluding decreased solar forcing as the trigger of the climate event, but making it likely that high cosmic ray flux (low solar activity) may be the cause of the rising atmospheric 14C content. We thus conclude that the Δ14C changes over the Gerzensee oscillation (GI-1b), being one of several coolings during the Last Termination, does not seem to be related to ocean ventilation changes. The reason behind this lack of coincidence between rising Δ14C and a fairly distinct Northern Hemisphere cooling may be due to the fact that the oceanic changes during some of these coolings are too subtle to give an atmospheric 14C imprint, or that an anti-phase relationship between the two hemispheres blurs the Δ14C signal, or, finally, that a partly unknown mechanism may lie behind such coolings. Copyright (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-214
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000


  • ΔC changes
  • C dating
  • Allerod
  • Denmark
  • GI-1b
  • Lacustrine sediments
  • Pollen analysis
  • Solar forcing
  • Stable isotopes
  • Thermohaline circulation

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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