Thomas Wagner2


During Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 159, four sites (Sites 959-962) were drilled along a depth transect on the Côte d’Ivoire/Ghana Transform Margin. In this study, the Pliocene–Pleistocene history of carbonate and organic carbon accumulation at Hole 959C is reconstructed for the eastern equatorial Atlantic off the Ivory Coast/Ghana based on bulk carbonate, sand fraction, organic carbon, and other organic geochemical records (delta 13 C org, marine organic matter percentages derived from organic petrology, hydrogen index, C/N).

Pliocene–Pleistocene sedimentation off the Ivory Coast/Ghana was strongly affected by low mean sedimentation rates, which are attributed to persistently enhanced bottom-water velocities related to the steep topography of the transform margin. Sand fraction and bulk carbonate records reveal typical glacial/interglacial cycles, preserved, however, with low time resolution. Intermediate carbonate accumulation rates observed throughout the Pliocene–Pleistocene suggest intense winnowing and sediment redistribution superimposed by terrigenous dilution. "Atlantic-type" sand and carbonate cycles, consistent with records from pelagic areas of the eastern equatorial Atlantic, are encountered at Hole 959C prior to about 0.9 Ma. Total organic carbon (TOC) records are frequently inversely correlated to carbonate contents, indicating mainly productivity-driven carbonate dissolution related to changes in paleoproductivity. During Stages 22-24, 20, 16, 12, 8, and 4, sand and carbonate records reveal a "Pacific-type" pattern, showing elevated contents during glacials commonly in conjunction with enhanced TOC records. Formation of "Pacific-type" patterns off the Ivory Coast/Ghana is attributed to drastically increased bottom-water intensities along the transform margin in accordance with results reported from the Walvis Ridge area.

Short-term glacial/interglacial changes in paleoproductivity off the Ivory Coast/Ghana are to some extend recognizable during glacials prior to 1.7 Ma and interglacial Stages 21, 19, 13, 9, and 1. Enhanced coastal upwelling during interglacials is attributed to local paleoclimatic and oceanographic conditions off the Ivory Coast/Ghana. Quantitative estimates of marine organic carbon based on organic petrologic and d13Corg records reveal an offset in concentration ranging from 15% to 60%. Highest variabilities of both records are recorded since ~0.9 Ma. Discrepancies between the isotopic and microscopic records are attributed to an admixture of C4 plant debris approaching the eastern equatorial Atlantic via atmospheric dust. Terrestrial organic material likely originated from the grass-savannah-covered Sahel zone in central Africa. Estimated C4 plant concentrations and accumulation rates range from 10% to 37% and from almost zero to 0.006 g/cm2/k.y., respectively. The strongest eolian supply to the northern Gulf of Guinea is indicated between 1.9 and 1.68 Ma and during glacial isotopic Stages 22-24, 20, 14, and 12. The presence of grass-type plant debris is further supported by organic petrologic studies, which reveal well-preserved cell tissues of vascular plants or tube-shaped, elongated terrestrial macerals showing different levels of oxidation.

1Mascle, J., Lohmann, G.P., and Moullade, M. (Eds.), 1998. Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 159: College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program).
2Fachbereich 5 - Geowissenschaften, Universität Bremen, Postfach 330440, 28334 Bremen, Federal Republic of Germany. tw@mail.sedpal.uni-bremen.de