latitude westerly flow. The marked seasonality of Mesopotamian rainfall and wind makes this re-gion a rich source of mineral dust to the atmo-sphere,with many regions reporting over 200days per year of dust-impaired visibility (Pye,1987). Analysis of satellite imagery and marinesediments (Al-Bakri etal.,1984; Al-Ghadban,1990; Sirocko and Sarnthein,1989) indicates thatthese mineral dusts are transported southwest bythe shamal to the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Omanwith an estimated mass flux of 100× 10
tons peryear (Pye,1987). Mesopotamian dusts have char-acteristically high concentrations of detrital dolo-mite,calcite,and quartz (Al-Bakri etal.,1984;Sirocko and Sarnthein,1989). During the morearid conditions that prevailed during the lastglacial maximum and Younger Dryas,as much as50% of the total measured calcite content in theGulf of Oman sediments was composed of fine,silt-sized detrital carbonate eolian grains (Sirocko,1989; Sirocko etal.,1993). Dolomite concentra-tion variations in northwest Indian Ocean sedi-ments have been used previously to reconstructlate Pleistocene variations in Mesopotamian arid-ity (Sirocko,1989; Sirocko etal.,1993).
METHODS AND AGE CONTROL
Core M5-422 (Fig. 1; 24°23.40
E;2732m deep) from the Gulf of Oman was contin-uously subsampled at 2cm intervals to reconstructa marine sediment record of Holocene variationsin regional aridity. The position of this core withinthe Mesopotamian dust trajectory and its distal lo-cation away from shelf and slope redepositionsources make it ideal for determining past changesin Mesopotamian climate. An oxygen isotopicstratigraphy from analyses of
(Fig.2) indicates average Holocene sedi-mentation rates of 15cm/k.y.,as the deglacial tran-sition occurs at a depth of 150cm,and our tempo-ral resolution averages about 100yr (Fig.2). Sam-ples were analyzed for magnetic susceptibility,calcium carbonate content,quantitative X-ray dif-fraction mineralogy,oxygen isotopic analyses,andSr and Nd isotopic composition of the extracteddetrital fraction using a sequential extraction tech-nique described in Sirocko etal. (1993).Age control was established using eight accel-erator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbondates on monospecific (
) foraminif-era. Conventional radiocarbon dates on mixedplanktonic foraminifera (>150
m fraction) of four samples were also obtained (Table1).
Con-version to calendar ages (Table1,see footnote1)was accomplished using the Calib 3.03c calibra-tion program (Stuiver and Reimer,1993) afterapplying a reservoir correction of –560yr derivedfor pre-bomb northwest Indian Ocean surfacewaters. All ages are in calendar years before present(B.P.) unless otherwise indicated. Sedimentationrates average 23cm/k.y. over the mid-late Holo-cene portion of the record (past ~5000–6000yr).
High abundances of detrital (eolian) dolomiteand calcite at the base of core M5-422 concurwith the well-documented and widespread arid-ity that was prevalent in Mesopotamia during thelast glacial maximum and Younger Dryas coldperiod; dust fluxes to Arabian Sea sedimentswere two to five times greater than present valuesduring the last glacial maximum (Clemens andPrell,1990; Sirocko,1989; Sirocko etal.,1993).By 11500B.P. the region became abruptly morehumid due to the well-documented intensifica-tion of the Indian monsoon. Increased humidityin the region is documented in core M5-422 byabrupt decreases in eolian dolomite and calciteconcentrations commencing near 145cm (ca.12000B.P.; Fig.2) and is also documented byparallel changes in eolian deposition and mon-soon-related upwelling in the Arabian Sea (core74 KL; Fig.1) (Sirocko etal.,1996).A dramatic mid-Holocene increase in eoliandolomite and calcite deposition occurred be-tween 70 and 56cm in the core,corresponding toan ~400yr period spanning 4025–3625B.P.based on four calibrated AMS radiocarbon ages(Fig.2; Table1,see footnote1). Dolomite con-centration,which reflects eolian mineral supplyfrom Mesopotamian sources,increased from1.5% to peak values approaching 9% by weightat 68cm,a level dated to 4025 ± 150B.P. Wecalculate that the mass flux of eolian dolomite(acomponent of solely eolian origin) increasedfrom background values of 0.39–0.43 g/cm
/k.y.to a weighted average value of 0.97 g/cm
/k.y.during this abrupt mid-Holocene aridificationevent. Calcium carbonate in this core,which re-flects contributions from both eolian carbonategrains as well as biogenic microfossil tests,in-creased from 19% to nearly 39% by weight.Under petrographic microscope,these sedimentshad marked increases in subrounded,well-sorted(25–30
m) lithic dolomite,limestone,andquartz grains relative to adjacent sediments. Asmaller amplitude increase in eolian dolomiteand calcite concentrations was also detected at adepth of 86–90cm (Fig.2) within core M5-422,corresponding to about 5200B.P.,although thislevel was not radiocarbon dated directly.
PROVENANCE OF THE 4025 B.P.INCREASE IN EOLIAN DEPOSITION
We employed radiogenic isotope analyses (Ndand Sr) to determine the provenance of the 4025±150B.P. increase in eolian deposition. The
Sr isotopic signatures of marine sedi-ments have been used previously to identify theprovenance of lithic particles in marine sedimentsglobally (Goldstein and O’nions,1981; Groussetetal.,1988),and in the northwest Indian Ocean inparticular (Dia etal.,1992). There are three princi-pal sources of terrigenous sediments to the north-west Indian Ocean (Fig.1),each with its own char-acteristic
Sr isotopic composition(Sirocko and Ittekot,1992):the Zagros Mountains(Iran),the Indus River (southwestern Asia),andthe Mesopotamian flood plains (Fig.3). Estimatesof the
Sr compositional ranges forthese three end members are summarized in Fig-ure3. We use
Sr analysis to recon-struct past variations in the relative contributions of Zagros and Mesopotamian detrital sources withrespect to the terrigenous sediment fraction in theM5-422 core top.
GSA Data Repository item 200041,Tables 1–3,isavailable on request from Documents Secretary,GSA,P.O. Box 9140,Boulder,CO 80301-9140,email@example.com,or at www.geosociety.org/ pubs/drpint.
Calendar Age (k.y)
R = 560 yr)Calendar age (k.y.)
3626 calendar yr B.P.4194 calendar yr B.P.
M5-422 - Gulf of Oman
S.E. = 1.1%S.E. = 0.6%
D e p t h ( c m )
Figure 2.Core M5-422 (24°23.40
E;2732m deep) increase in eolian dolomite andCaCO
between 4194 and 3626 calendar yr B.P.Conventional bulk (>150
m fraction) radio-carbon analyses are shown with error bars,respective analytical precisions are shown.