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The Okinawa Trough is a natural laboratory for the study of later Quaternary land-ocean interaction and paleoenvironmental changes. In this study we reconstruct the evolution of clay mineral assemblages in Core DGKS9604 retrieved from the central Okinawa Trough. Illite dominates the clay mineral compositions, with average contents above 60%. Clay mineral evolution since 28 ka is closely related to changes in sediment provenance and paleoenvironment. Sea level rise and the strength of the Kuroshio Current control the dispersal and deposition of clays on the East China Sea shelf and in the Okinawa Trough, and thus, determine the clay mineral compositions in the core sediments. During the late last glacial period (28.0-14.0 ka), the paleo-Changjiang River mouth was situated at the shelf edge close to the central Okinawa Trough and thus, together with the outer shelf, supplied large volumes of terrigenous sediments directly into the trough. From 14.0 to 8.4 ka influence from the Changjiang decreased while the mid-outer shelf of the East China Sea became the dominant sediment source to the central Okinawa Trough as sea level rose and the Changjiang river mouth migrated west. Strong sediment reworking and erosion at the shelf edge at 15-13 ka significantly increased the lateral transport of fine-grained shelf sediments to the central Okinawa Trough. Since ca. 8.4 ka clays from Taiwan have dominated the sediment flux to the site, coinciding with the re-entry of the Kuroshio Current into the trough. The increasing influence of the Changjiang-sourced sediments since 1.5 ka was probably related to the weakening of the Kuroshio Current and/or a higher river flux. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

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