Radiogenic isotope (Nd, Pb, Sr) signatures of surface and sea ice-transported sediments from the Arctic Ocean under the present interglacial conditions

  • Jenny Maccali Geotop-UQÀM, Department of Earth and Atmosphere Sciences
  • Claude Hillaire-Marcel Geotop-UQÀM, Department of Earth and Atmosphere Sciences
  • Christelle Not Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Keywords: Surface shelf sediments, discriminant function analysis, sediment mixing, unequivocal source identification, three-isotope system


Under modern conditions, sediments from the large continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean are mixed by currents, incorporated into sea ice and redistributed over the Arctic Basin through the Beaufort Gyre and Trans-Polar Drift major sea-ice routes. Here, compiling data from the literature and combining them with our own data, we explore how radiogenic isotopes (Sr, Pb and Nd) from Arctic shelf surface sediment can be used to identify inland and coastal sediment sources. Based on discriminant function analyses, the use of two-isotope systematics introduces a large uncertainty (ca. 50%) that prevents unequivocal identifications of regional shelf signatures. However, when using all three isotopic systems, shelf provinces can be distinguished within a ca. 23% uncertainty only, which is mainly due to isotopic overlaps between the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Barents–Kara seas areas. Whereas the Canadian Arctic shelf seems mostly influenced by Mackenzie River supplies, as documented by earlier studies, a clear Lena River signature cannot be clearly identified in the Laptev–Kara seas area. The few available data on sediments collected in sea-ice rafts suggest sea ice originating mostly from the Laptev Sea area, along with non-negligible contributions from the East Siberian and Kara seas. At last, whereas a clear radiogenic identity of the Mackenzie River in sediments can be identified in the Beaufort Sea margin, isotopic signatures frommajor Russian rivers cannot be deciphered in modern Siberian margin sediments because of an intense mixing by sea ice and currents of inland and coastal supplies.


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