Impact of diagenesis on the environmental magnetic record from a Holocene sedimentary sequence from the Chukchi-Alaskan margin, Arctic Ocean

Stefanie Brachfeld, Francesco Barletta, Guillaume St-Onge, Dennis Darby, Joseph D. Ortiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We present a high-resolution Holocene sedimentary record of environmental variability from the eastern Chukchi Sea. An ice-rafted debris bearing silty-clay marks the deglacial to post-glacial Holocene transition at this site and is dated at 9.7 ka. An interval of oscillating magnetic parameters from 9.5 to 8.7 ka coincides with the Holocene Thermal Maximum in the western Arctic, and is manifested at the study area as pulses of fine-grained magnetite input every 180-230 years, possibly from increased river discharge or stronger currents flowing over the core site. The magnetic mineral assemblage is very uniform over the last 8.2 ka and consists of a mixture of magnetite, titanomagnetite, and a magnetic phase that we tentatively identify as the magnetic iron sulfide greigite. The amount of magnetic iron sulfides increases up through the Holocene, a trend that is controlled by the amount of marine organic matter available to fuel bacterial sulfate reduction. The median destructive field of the Natural Remanent Magnetization (MDFNRM) displays centennial to millennial scale cycles with significant variance at periods of 900-1300 and 1700-2700 years, with intervals of high MDFNRM values coinciding with indicators of greater sea ice cover [McKay, J., de Vernal, A., Hillaire-Marcel, C., Not, C., Polyak, L., Darby, D., 2008. Holocene fluctuations in Arctic sea-ice cover: Dinocyst-based reconstructions for the eastern Chukchi Sea. Can. J. Earth Sci. 45, 1399-1415]. The MDFNRM is controlled by the variable abundance of iron sulfides formed during early diagenesis. We interpret intervals of high MDFNRM values as times of stronger water column stratification, during which the pyritization process was interrupted by the lack of marine organic matter and lack of reactive iron. Intervals of low MDFNRM values, which coincide with indicators of reduced sea ice cover, are interpreted as times of stronger vertical mixing of the water column, which allows fresh marine organic matter and reactive iron to reach the seafloor, driving the pyritization process to completion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-114
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Chukchi Sea
  • diagenesis
  • environmental magnetism
  • greigite


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