The evolution of seafloor environmental conditions in the southern Red Sea continental shelf during the last 30 ka

S. Sergiou, M. Geraga, E. J. Rohling, L. Rodríguez-Sanz, A. Prandekou, A. Noti, F. Paraschos, D. Sakellariou, G. Bailey

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The southern Red Sea is affected by intense interactions between monsoon and sea level changes in a semi-closed environment. Still, the impacts on the wide shelves remain poorly documented. We investigate the seafloor environmental conditions on the southern Red Sea shelf over the last 30 ka through sedimentological (visual inspection, granulometry, bulk density), geochemical (organic carbon, calcium carbonate and nitrogen content) and micropaleontological (benthic foraminifera) observations in a previously dated sediment core (FA09) from the Farasan Islands Archipelago. Glacial sediments exhibit high density and low carbonate contents, whereas post-glacial sediments reflect increased biogenic productivity. Seafloor oxygenation was limited in most of the glacial interval, along with hypersaline conditions. During the maximum sea level lowstand, an enhanced presence of eutrophic-indicator benthic assemblages likely reflects efficient organic matter preservation induced by weak water ventilation. Our proxies combined with a previous surface-water productivity reconstruction reveals a coupling between organic matter flux to the seafloor and surface productivity levels in the southern Red Sea shelf, particularly pronounced during periods of enhanced summer monsoon. This pattern is often accompanied by a decrease in seafloor oxygenation. In contrast, well oxygenated and more oligotrophic seafloor conditions are recorded around the time of Heinrich Stadial 2, when previous work indicates a reduction in summer monsoon intensity and surface productivity levels. A drastic decrease of benthic foraminifera along with increased organic carbon contents in late glacial and late Holocene reflect oxygen-depleted seafloor conditions that we attribute to expansion of an intensified southern Red Sea oxygen minimum zone (OMZ).

Original languageEnglish
Article number102181
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Micropaleontology
Early online date18 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Monsoon
  • Paleoceanography
  • Red Sea
  • Sea level changes
  • Seafloor conditions


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