The Arabian Sea is characterized today by a well-developed and perennial oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) at mid-water depths. The Indian margin where the OMZ impinges provides sediment records ideal to study past changes in the OMZ intensity and its vertical extent in response to the changes of monsoondrivenprimary productivity and intermediate water ventilation. Benthic foraminifera, depending upon their adaptation capabilities to variation in sea floor environment and microhabitat preferences, develop various functional morphologies that can be potentially used in paleoenvironmental reconstruction. In this study, we analysed benthic foraminiferal morphogroups in assemblage records of the last 30 ka in asediment core collected from the lower OMZ of the Indian margin (off Goa). In total, nine morphogroups within two broadly classified epifaunal and infaunal microhabitat categories are identified. The abundance of morphogroups varies significantly during the late Glacial, Deglacial and Holocene. It appears thatmonsoon wind driven organic matter flux, and water column ventilation governing the OMZ intensity and sea-bottom oxygen condition, have profound influence on structuring the benthic foraminiferal morphogroups. We found a few morphogroups showing major changes in their abundances during the periods corresponding to the northern hemisphere climatic events. Benthic foraminifera with planoconvextests are abundant during the cold Heinrich events, when the sea bottom was oxygenated due to a better ventilated, weak OMZ; whereas, those having tapered/cylindrical tests dominate during the last glacial maximum and the Holocene between 5 and 8 ka BP, when the OMZ was intensified and poorly ventilated, leading to oxygen-depleted benthic environment. Characteristically, increased abundance of taxa with milioline tests during the Heinrich 1 further suggests enhanced ventilation attributed probably to the influence of oxygen-rich Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW).
Volume 131, 2022
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