The last termination in the South Indian Ocean: a unique terrestrial record from Kerguelen Islands (49°S) situated within the southern Hemisphere westerly belt

Nathalie Van der Putten*, Cyriel Verbruggen, Svante Björck, Elisabeth Michel, Jean Robert Disnar, Emmanuel Chapron, Bertrand N. Moine, Jacques Louis de Beaulieu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The awareness of the significance of the Southern Ocean in the Earth's climate system has become increasingly obvious. The deglacial atmospheric CO2 rise during warming periods in Antarctica has been attributed to CO2 ventilation from the deep ocean caused by enhanced upwelling around the Antarctic Divergence. It has been hypothesized that, more intense Southern Hemisphere westerly winds aligned with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current due to a southward shift of the wind belt from its Last Glacial Maximum equator-ward position, are the main drivers. Reconstructions of past changes in atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere are still scarce and the overall picture is patchy with sometimes contradictory results. For obvious reasons, most terrestrial records originate from southern South America and New Zealand. Here we present a terrestrial record from the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean, from Kerguelen Islands located at 49°S. A peat record is investigated using a multi-proxy approach (pollen and plant macrofossils, magnetic susceptibility, XRF analyses, biogenic silica content, Rock-Eval6 analysis and humification degree). Peat accumulation starts at about 16,000calyr BP with relatively warm and dry conditions. The most prominent change in our proxy data occurs at 13,600calyr BP, when peat ponds were established on the peat surface, resulting in lacustrine-type deposits, as a result of very high humidity, and with proxies implying very windy conditions. Within chronological uncertainties, this onset coincides with the onset of the so-called Oceanic Cold Reversal, based on the deuterium excess data in the EPICA Dome C ice core record. Kerguelen Islands are located in the moisture source area of Dome C and a change in atmospheric circulation at that time could explain both records. Around 12,900calyr BP, at the end of the Antarctic Cold Reversal, pond/lake sediments give way to more peaty deposits, with proxies suggesting slightly drier, less windy and probably warmer conditions. Kerguelen Islands became less influenced by the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds and these conditions were amplified during the early Holocene climate optimum as found in Antarctic ice core records.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-157
Number of pages16
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Indian ocean
  • Kerguelen islands
  • Last termination
  • Oceanic cold reversal
  • Palaeoclimatology
  • Peat record
  • Southern hemisphere westerly belt
  • Southern ocean


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