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The late Quaternary paleoceanography and paleoenvironment in the Okinawa Trough, East China Sea, have been well reconstructed over the last decade, while in contrast the provenance of terrigenous sediments that have accumulated there remains enigmatic. In this study, rare earth elements (REE) were used to investigate provenance changes in sediments from Core DGKS9604, taken from the middle Okinawa Trough. Discrimination plots based on REE fractionation parameters suggest that the cored sediments have variable provenances over the last 30. ka, with the lower part (ca. 31-8.2. ka) ultimately originating mostly from the Changjiang (Yangtze River) and the upper part (7.1-0. ka) primarily from Taiwan. During the Last Glacial Maximum and early deglacial period, sea level was low and the main stream of the Kuroshio Current was deflected to the east of the Ryukyu Islands. As a result the Changjiang-derived sediments might have dominated sedimentation of the middle Okinawa Trough. However, since about 7. ka the main stream of the Kuroshio Current strengthened in the area of the trough, as sea level approximated the modern position. This caused near-bottom transport of fine-grained sediments from the continental margin to the trough to become weak and instead, Taiwan-derived terrigenous sediments dominated in the middle trough. The changing provenances of terrigenous sediments into the middle Okinawa Trough are closely related to the evolution of oceanic circulation and sea level in the East China Sea. Two tephra layers in the core have distinct REE compositions and correlate well with two volcanic eruptions at 7.6 and 25.8. ka in southern Japan. © 2010.

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Marine Geology

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