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Argentine Basin: A key to understand the evolution of oceanic current systems - Argentine Basin drifts I –

Principal Investigator: Dr. Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben UenzelRundeI

The Argentine Basin represents an important path within the global conveyor belt. Cold AABW takes a northward path as a western boundary current through this basin, while NADW takes a southern route as a western boundary current. Antarctic Intermediate Water AAIW also sets toward the north along the Argentine continental margin (Open University, 1989). The sedimentary sequences at the Argentine continental margin hence represent an important archive of the evolution of those water masses and their modifications (path, physical and chemical properties) e.g. due to plate tectonic events such as the opening of the Drake passage or the extensive emplacement of volcanic flows at Rio Grande Rise.

The water masses formed sediment drifts, which document path and intensity of the flow. An identification and detailed analysis and mapping of the drift development in time will shed light on the evolution of the water masses. This in turn will lead to information on the climatic condition. Up to now mainly the drifts in the central Argentine Basin (e.g. Zapiola Drift) have been investigated. We will concentrate on the continental margin and study long-term interaction (Eocene to Holocene) of the currents with sediment input.

The Argentine Basin forms one of the four major basins of the South Atlantic. It opened in Early Cretaceous times (Hinz et al., 1999) and hence could build up a long term but highresolution record of the oceanographic-climatic conditions. The proposed project thus ideally tackels the research goals (a) Structure and morphology of the continental margins and shelf areas, (b) The effects of the basin morphology of the Atlantic on the establishment of recent and palaeo-oceanic circulation patterns and climate feedback, and (c) Erosion and sedimentation processes on- and offshore formulated within the research focus D "Sedimentary processes and fluid systems" of the priority program. The project presented here further forms a link between tectonic reconstructions and climate/ocean current simulations.