Decadal to millennial cyclicity in varves and turbidites from the Arabian Sea: Hypothesis of tidal origin

  • Berger W
  • Von Rad U
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We have analyzed a Late Holocene record, almost 5000 years long, consisting of varved sediments deposited in the oxygen-minimum zone (OMZ) off Pakistan. We searched for cyclicity in the series of varve thickness ("varve" cycles), of unusually large excursions in varve thickness ("agitation" cycles), and of abundance of turbidites ("turbidite" cycles). We found the following high-frequency cycles (periods between 10 and 100 years) in one or several of the three types of series as follows: near 12.4, 14-15, 16.8, 18.6 (strong, agitation), 25-26 (strong, turbidite), 29-31 (strong, agitation), 39 (varve), 44 (strong, turbidite), 51-54 (strong, agitation), 56 (strong, varve), 64 (strong, turbidite), 69, 77 (strong, turbidite), 82 (very strong, agitation), and 95 years (strong, varve). Low-frequency cycles center around 99-115, 125 (very strong, varve), 164, 177, 202, 242-255 (strong, agitation and turbidite), 280 (strong, varve; doubled, turbidite), 340-370 and 460-490 years. Some cycles of varve thickness match the cyclicity of turbidite frequency (12.3, 14-15, 25-26, 245-255 years) but similarities between spectra are not striking. Taken as a whole, however, the sequence of cycles detected (by autocorrelation and standard Fourier analysis) seems to contain a large proportion of multiples of the basic tidal cycles 4.425 (lunar perigee cycle) and 9.3 years (lunar half-nodal cycle). This impression is supported by testing the three binned spectra for whole-number multiples and fractions as well as whole-number beat structure. We therefore propose that a large proportion of the cyclicity detected can be ascribed to tidal action. Our record also contains evidence for the presence of the 1470-year cycle previously reported from the glacial-age Greenland ice record. The main harmonics of this Greenland cycle can be tied to the pattern of periods seen in the varved sediments. We hypothesize that tidal action produces the cycle, and that the reason for its great length is the requirement that maximum tidal activity has to fall into a narrow seasonal window to be geologically effective. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Arabian Sea sediments
  • Holocene
  • Tidal cycles
  • Turbidites
  • Varves

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  • W. H. Berger

  • U. Von Rad

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