Articles | Volume 12, issue 20
Research article
22 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 22 Oct 2015

Interdecadal changes in intensity of the oxygen minimum zone off Concepción, Chile (~ 36° S), over the last century

B. Srain, S. Pantoja, J. Sepúlveda, C. B. Lange, P. Muñoz, R. E. Summons, J. McKay, and M. Salamanca

Abstract. We reconstructed oxygenation changes in the upwelling ecosystem off Concepción (36° S), Chile, using inorganic and organic proxies in a sediment core covering the last ca. 110 years of sedimentation in this area. Authigenic enrichments of Mo, U and Cd were observed between ca. 1935 and 1971 CE, implying a prolonged period with predominantly more reduced conditions in bottom waters and surface sediments. Significant positive correlations between redox-sensitive metals, algal sterols, biomarkers of micro-aerophilic and anaerobic microorganisms, and archaeal glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers point to a tight coupling among bottom water O2 depletion and increased primary and export production. The time interval with low O2 of ca. 35 years seems to follow low-frequency interdecadal variation of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and it may have resulted in O2 depletion over the entire continental shelf off Concepción. Taking this together with the concurrent increase in sedimentary molecular indicators of micro-aerophilic and anaerobic microbes, we can suggest that changes in oxygenation of the water column are reflected by changes in microbial community. This study can inform our understanding of ecological consequences to projected trends in ocean deoxygenation.

Final-revised paper