Paleoclimatological Analysis of an 8500 Year-Long Sediment Core from Baie des Baradères, Haiti

Authors: Sydney Moser*, University Of Ottawa, André Viau, University of Ottawa, Matthew Peros, Bishop’s University, Andrea Hawkes, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Pete van Hengstrum, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Jon Woodruff, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Chris Maio, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Jeffrey Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: Paleoclimate, Caribbean, Haiti, sedimentology, XRF core scanning, island ecosystems, anthropogenic activity
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: Download

In the circum-Caribbean region, long (millennial) timescale paleoclimate records, which are used to establish important environmental baseline data and information on the variability of climatological phenomena such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes, are rare. This project aims to help resolve this gap by using geological and geochemical proxies (grain-size analysis, x-ray fluorescence core scanning data) to identify long time-scale climate variability in a coastal setting on the island of Hispaniola. The focus of this study is a nine-meter-long sediment core, with a basal radiocarbon date of ~8500 cal yr BP, collected from an underwater karst basin approximately one km from the Baradères River Delta on Haiti’s southwestern peninsula. Preliminary results, based on principal component analysis (PCA) of the grain size and geochemical data, reveal a dynamic local paleoclimate during the last 3000 years. Specifically, peaks in terrestrially-derived elements and ratios (e.g., Fe, Ti, Ti/Ca) are associated with high silt and clay, which may be due to enhanced discharge from the Baradères River. Such events occur at from 2600-2100 cal yr BP and at 1600 cal yr BP and may reflect periods of wetter climate due to higher precipitation. In addition, high values of silt and clay, in conjunction with enhanced Ti, Fe, and P over the last 200 years may be indicative of historic-era deforestation and erosion. This research adds to the growing inventory of paleoclimatological records in the Caribbean, improving the spatial distribution of such studies, and ultimately improving our understanding of the driving forces of millennial climate variability.

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