Testing an Arc Volcanism - Climate Link in a High-Latitude Plio-Pleistocene Marine Tephra Archive at ODP Site 882 (Northwest Pacific)

Lead PI: Dr. Susanne M. Straub

Unit Affiliation: Geochemistry, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

March 2020 - February 2023
Pacific Ocean ; Northwest Pacific
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This project explores high latitude volcanic activity. It is hypothesized that the volcanic activity is linked to cyclic variations in Earth's climate, especially the growth and shrinking of terrestrial ice sheets during the glacial / interglacial cycles of the last ~2.6 million years. Sediment cores will be studied that were recovered by ocean drilling as part of the multi-national Ocean Drilling Program (ODP). In those cores the number and composition of ash layers produced by the volcanoes of Kamchatka Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands will be measured. Current data show a strong increase of volcanic activity at the beginning of the Earth's most recent glacial period, 2.6 million years ago. That increase was followed by periodic changes in how often volcanoes erupt. This study will show whether those volcanic cycles are timed with orbitally-driven climate cycles through that 2.6 million year period, which would be expected if Earth's volcanism was linked to global climate cycles. The project will be carried out by international team of researchers from the United States, Australia and Mexico that includes igneous geochemists and climate scientists. The team is led by a women scientist with a disability. The project provides opportunities for graduate and undergraduate student training, for connecting with colleagues in Russia and Germany who work on complementary projects, and for outreach to K-12 teachers and students and to the general public.

The proposed project will test the glacio-volcano hypothesis whether the increase in marine fallout ash bed frequency at ~2.6 Ma and its subsequent fluctuation in the North Pacific is causally related to the Pleistocene ice cycles. This will be done by means of the Plio-Pleistocene ash bed record drilled in two holes at ODP Site 882 (Leg 145), which are 100% recovered by advanced piston coring (APC)-techniques and that contain a rich and time-precise, late Pliocene to Recent ash bed record from high-latitude volcanic arcs where the effects of global glaciation cycles are strongest. The team will obtain a revised, detailed lithostratigraphic description of the Site 882 ash beds, and augment the existing compositional data by additional major and trace element analyses, including Cl, and Pb and Nd isotope ratios in order to test whether (i) Milankovitch periods are present in the ash bed series; (ii) there is a tell-tale change in ash bed cyclicity across the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (~0.7-1.1 Ma); (iii) ash bed cyclicity is affected by provenance from different arcs; and (iv) there is a magmatic control on ash bed cyclicity. The study could provide an answer to whether tempos of explosive arc volcanism as recorded in the marine ash bed series are paced by glaciation, or whether such signals are largely lost in the maze of other processes that influence the timing of explosive arc volcanism.