Glacial-interglacial productivity contrasts along the eastern Arabian Sea: Dominance of convective mixing over upwelling
The western continental margin of India is one of the highly productive regions in the global ocean. Primary productivity is induced by upwelling and convective mixing during the southwest and northeast monsoons respectively. Realizing the importance of high primary productivity, a sediment core was collected below the current oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) from the southwestern continental margin of India. This was dated by AMS radiocarbon and as many as 60 paleoclimate/paceoceanographic proxies, such as particle size, biogenic components, major, trace and rare earth elements (REEs) which were measured for the first time to determine sources of sediment, biogeochemical processes operating in the water column and their variations since the last glacial cycle. R-mode factor analysis of comprehensive data indicates that the dominant regulator of paleoproductivity is the southwest monsoon wind induced upwelling. Other paleoproductivity related factors identified are the marine biogenic component and biogenic detritus (as an exported component from the water column added to the bottom sediment). All paleoproductivity components increased significantly during the marine isotope stage-1 (MIS-1) compared to those accumulated from MIS-4 to MIS-2. The second group of factors identified are the terrigenous sediments with heavy minerals like zircon and ilmenite. The terrigenous sediment, in particular, increased during MIS-2 when the sea-level was lower; however, the heavy mineral component fluctuated over time implying pulsed inputs of sediment. The diagenetic fraction and reducing component are the third group of factors identified which varied with time with increased accumulation during the MIS transitions.;
The primary productivity along the southwestern continental margin of India seems to have been controlled principally by the upwelling during the southwest monsoon season that was weaker from MIS-4 to MIS-2, as relative to that during the MIS-1. In contrast, increased glacial productivity noticed in sediments deposited below the current oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) along the north of the study area that can be linked to entrainment of nutrients through the intensified convective mixing of surface water during the northeast monsoon. The sequestration of greenhouse gases by the western continental margin of India was higher during glacial than interglacial cycles.