Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Benjamin P. Flower, Ph.D.


Paleoclimate, Younger Dryas, Oldest Dryas, Atlantic Warm Pool, Seasonality


During the last deglaciation, Greenland ice core records exhibit multiple, high frequency climate events including the Oldest Dryas, Bølling-Allerød and Younger Dryas, which may be linked to meltwater routing of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS). Previous studies show episodic meltwater input, via the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) several thousand years before the onset of the Younger Dryas until ~13.0 kcal (thousand calendar) yrs, when meltwater may have switched to an eastern spillway, reducing thermohaline circulation (THC). Data from laminated Orca Basin in the GOM, constrained by 34 Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) ¹4C dates, provide the necessary resolution to assess GOM sea-surface temperature (SST) history and test the meltwater routing hypothesis.

Paired Mg/Ca and d¹8O data on the Foraminifera species Globigerinoides ruber (pink and white varieties) document the timing of meltwater input and temperature change with decadal resolution. White G. ruber SST results show an early 5°C increase at 17.6-16.0 kcal yrs and several SST decreases, including at 16.0-14.7 kcal yrs during the Oldest Dryas (2°C) and at 12.9-11.7 kcal yrs during the Younger Dryas (2.5°C). While the early deglaciation shows strong similarities to records from Antarctica and Tobago Basin, the late deglaciation displays climate events that coincide with Greenland and Cariaco Basin records, suggesting that GOM SST is linked to both northern and southern hemisphere climate. Isolation of the ice-volume corrected d¹8O composition of seawater (d¹8O[subscript GOM]) shows multiple episodes of meltwater at ~16.4-15.7 kcal yrs and ~15.2-13.1 kcal yrs with white G. ruber d¹8O[subscript GOM] values as low as -2.5%0.

The raw radiocarbon age of the cessation of meltwater in the GOM (11.375±0.40 ¹4C kcal yrs) is synchronous with large changes in tropical surface water ?¹4C, a proxy for THC strength. An early meltwater episode beginning at 16.4 kcal yrs during the Oldest Dryas supports the suggestion of enhanced seasonality in the northern North Atlantic during Greenland stadials. We suggest a corollary to the seasonality hypothesis that in addition to extreme winters during stadials, warm summers allowed for LIS melting, which may have enhanced THC slowdown.