U-Th dating of marine isotope stage 7 in Bahamas slope sediments

L F Robinson, G M Henderson, N C Slowey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


In order to understand the driving forces for Pleistocene climate change more fully we need to compare the timing of climate events with their possible forcing. In contrast to the last interglacial (marine isotope stage (MIS) 5) the timing of the penultimate interglacial (MIS 7) is poorly constrained. This study constrains its timing and structure by precise U-Th dating of high-resolution delta(18)O records from aragonite-rich Bahamian slope sediments of ODP Leg 166 (Sites 1008 and 1009). The major glacial-interglacial cycles in delta(18)O are distinct within these cores and some MIS 7 substages can be identified. These sediments are well suited for U-Th dating because they have uranium concentrations of up to 12 ppm and very low initial Th-230 contributions with most samples showing T-230/Th-232 activity ratio of >75, U and Th concentrations and isotope ratios were measured by thermal ionisation mass spectrometry and multiple collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, with the latter providing dramatically better precision. Twenty-nine of the 41 samples measured have a delta(234)U value close to modern seawater suggesting that they have experienced little diagenesis. Ages from 27 of the 41 samples were deemed reliable on the basis of both their U and their Th isotope ratios. Ages generally increase with depth, although we see a repeated section of stratigraphy in one core. Extrapolation of constant sedimentation rate through each substage suggests that the peak of MIS 7e lasted from similar to237 to 228 ka and that 7c began at 215 ka. This timing is consistent with existing low precision radiometric dates from speleothem deposits. The beginning of both these substages appears to be slightly later than in orbitally tuned timescales. The end of MIS 7 is complex, but also appears to be somewhat later than is suggested by orbitally tuned timescales, although this event is not particularly well defined in these cores. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-187
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2002


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