ABSTRACT: The Arctic Ocean has experienced orbital and millennial-scale climate oscillations over the last 500 kilo-annum (ka) involving massive changes in global sea level and components of the Arctic cryosphere, including sea-ice cover, land-based ice sheets and ice shelves. Although these climate events are only partially understood, micropaleontological studies utilizing ostracodes and benthic foraminifera have demonstrated that major changes in faunas have occurred at different timescales that signify ecosystem regime changes linked to sea-ice cover, surface productivity, bottom temperature and other factors. In addition to faunal changes characterizing glacial-interglacial cycles, Arctic sediments contain several unusual faunal events that cannot be explained by orbital-scale sea level and cryospheric changes. One indicator of such events involves the ostracode Rabilimis mirabilis (Brady 1868), a shallow-water species that inhabits continental shelves in the modern Arctic. We conducted studies of the stratigraphic distribution of R. mirabilis in cores from the Northwind, Mendeleev, Lomonosov, and Alpha Ridges; the Siberian and North American (Beaufort Sea) continental margins; and the Lincoln Sea off North Greenland and in the northern Greenland Sherard Osborn Fjord. Evidence from these records suggests that this species occurs as a fossil in deeper water sediment cores on the upper parts of submarine ridges (mainly 700-900 meters water depth, mwd), in significant numbers (from 1%to 50% of total ostracodes) during Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 5a (125-109 ka), MIS 4 (71-57 ka), and MIS 3 (57-29 ka). Furthermore, it occurs in cores from various depths on the Siberian margin, the Beaufort and Lincoln Seas during MIS 1 (the Holocene, approx. 11-0 ka). These occurrences involve well-preserved, stratigraphically consistent adult and juvenile populations, which are autochthonous in nature and not caused by downslope transport or ice rafting. Based on their age and associated paleoceanographic conditions in the Arctic, we interpret these R. mirabilis events as signifying basin-ward migration during abrupt changes in growth and decay of massive ice shelves and may be useful as biostratigraphic markers.
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