Late Quaternary paleoceanography of the Denmark Strait Overflow Pathway

Updated 2001-04-05

The global thermohaline circulation is driven by sinking of cold, dense surface waters in the Greenland and Norwegian Seas and its replacement by warmer surface water from lower latitudes. This global circulation system, the conveyor belt, is the main regulator of global climate. Even slight disturbances of this delicate system will cause significant climate changes, especially for NW Europe. While the current hydrographical situation and associated overflow pathways are well-documented, paleoceanographic studies of the Greenland and Faroe/Shetland (F/S) overflow pathways are still scarce. The F/S pathway is presently the subject of study of the MAST program (ENAM project). This project focusses on the late Quaternary overflow history of the important East Greenland pathway. High resolution multichannel sleevegun seismic data recently collected by the Geological Survey of Greenland and Denmark (GEUS) allowed identification of suitable box- and piston-coring sites. Results from the high-resolution cores, allowing direct correlation with regional atmospheric changes documented in the Greenland ice-cores will provide new information on causes and mechanisms of climate change. The continental slope and rise off SE-Greenland can be considered as a potential key area for paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic studies, since: 1) The area is located in the immediate vicinity of the Denmark Strait arctic gateway for water mass exchange between the Arctic and Atlantic ocean. Recent hydrographic measurements (Dickson 1994) demonstrate the important role of the area with regard to hydrographic processes contributing to the formation of NADW. 2) The seafloor morphology and information from multichannel seismic recording shows the presence of numerous large detached sediment drifts and other drift-related features, which will provide important paleoceanographic information as outlined before. 3) The distribution and architecture of the sediment drifts is also affected by down-slope processes transporting upperslope/shelf sediments of mainly glacial origin. Thus the area offers an unique opportunity to study the sediment drifts both with regard to the (paleo)oceanic flow regime and the climatically-inherited signal from the down-slope sediment input. Research activities: All research is directed towards documentation of high resolution natural climate variability during the late Quaternary. Separate topics include: 1. Seismic/sidescan sonar studies 2. High resolution quantitative micropaleontology (planktonic/benthic foraminifera, diatoms, calcareous nannoplankton, dinoflagellates) 3. High resolution stable oxygen/carbon isotope studies 4. DNA studies on planktonic foraminifera (with University of Edinburgh)

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project
Comments and additional information:

The material derives from the NWO/GOA funded 1997 Denmark Strait Expedition. Dr. S.R. Troelstra (VU, Amsterdam), chief scientist Dr. A. Kuijpers (GEUS, Copenhagen), co-chief Research vessel Professor Logachev (St. Petersburg) Continued research will be carried out within the framework of the CLIVAR and IMAGES projects.

Time frame

Project time span
1997 -
Data collection
not specified
Data processing
not specified
Data reporting
not specified

Contact information

Contact person
Simon Troelstra
Faculty of Earth Sciences Vrije Universiteit De Boelelaan 1085 1081 HV Amsterdam Netherlands
+31 20 4447292
+31 20 6462457

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Algae (algae, phytoplankton)
Marine sediments
Seawater/suspended particulate matter
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

- Acoustic seafloor data - Sediment cores (seafloor, box/pistoncores) - Plankton pump/net samples - Filtered GoFlow samples


Regions studied
Greenland Sea
Nordic Seas
Other areas
Denmark Strait
Stations or areas where observations are made

General area: 62-64ºN, 38-42ºW Stations: DS97-1 - DS97-16 : 62-64ºN, 38-42ºW 16 station including N = net B = box-core P = piston-core

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam / NITG (Haarlem) Data will be available to other projects and/or international programmes
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Troelstra, S.R., A. Kuijpers and the shipboard party. 1997 Late Quaternary paleoceanography of the Denmark Strait Overflow Pathway (SE Greenland). Shipboard report. Troelstra, S.R., A. Kijpers et al. (in prep). The SE Greenland continental margin: Late Quaternary sedimentary processes and paleoceanography. Troelstra, S.R., Kuijpers, A., Gaynanov, V., Krinitsky, P., Smirnov, B. (1998): Late Quaternary paleo-ceanography of the southeast Greenland continental margin - Initial results from the RV Prof. Logachev 1997 cruise. Abstract 6th International Conference on Paleoceanography. Kuijpers, A., Troelstra, S.R., Wisse, M., Heier Nielsen, S., Van Weering, T.C.E. (1998): Norwegian Sea Overflow variability and NE Atlantic surface hydrography during the past 150.000 years. Marine Geology (in press) Kuijpers, A., Höhnerbach, V., Krinitsky, P., Larsen, B., Nielsen, T., Smirnov, B., Troelstra, S.R. (1998): Sporene efter de dybe havstrømme I Nordatlanten. 10th Meeting of Danish Oceanographers, Hirtshals, 21-23 January 1998, Program & Abstracts: 49-50 , Lisbon, Portugal, August 23-28, 1998
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?
Specimen banking information

Archive location: Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam / NITG (Haarlem) Surface samples on ethanol/rose bengal cores: cold storage Specimens/samples will be available to other projects and/or international programmes. In principle on each station a plankton net (N), waterbottle (W), box-core (B) and piston-core (P) was taken. All requests on material etc. can be directed to S.R. Troelstra, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Methods & Procedures

Not specified

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

- Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) - University of Aarhus, Denmark - University of Edinburgh, England - NIOZ, Den Burg, the Netherlands - University of Gothenburg, Sweden - University of Utrecht, the Netherlands - University of Montreal, Canada

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?


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