US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Marine Micropaleontology 62 (2007) 115–139.


High-resolution records of the past 2000 yr are compared in a north–south transect (28° N to 24° N) of three cores from the eastern slopes of the Guaymas, Carmen, and Pescadero Basins of the Gulf of California (hereafter referred to as the “Gulf”). Evenly-spaced samples from the varved sediments in each core allow sample resolution ranging from ∼ 16 to ∼ 37 yr.

Diatoms and silicoflagellates capture the seasonal variation between a late fall to early spring period of high biosiliceous productivity, that is driven by northwest winds, and a summer period of warmer, more stratified waters during which these winds slacken and/or reverse direction (monsoonal flow). As these winds decrease, tropical waters enter the Gulf and spread northward. Individual samples represent a composite of 7 to 23 yr of deposition and are assumed to record the relative dominance of the winter vs. summer floral components.

Intervals of enhanced summer incursion of tropical waters, alternating with periods of increased late fall to early spring biosiliceous productivity are recorded in all three cores. Regularly spaced cycles (∼ 100 yr duration) of Octactis pulchra, a silicoflagellate proxy for lower SST and high productivity, and Azpeitia nodulifera, a tropical diatom, occur between ∼ A.D. 400 and ∼ 1700 in the more nearshore Carmen Basin core, NH01-21 (26.3° N), suggesting a possible solar influence on coastal upwelling.

Cores BAM80 E-17 (27.9° N) and NH01-26 (24.3° N) contain longer-duration cycles of diatoms and silicoflagellates. The early part of Medieval Climate Anomaly (∼ A.D. 900 to 1200) is characterized by two periods of reduced productivity (warmer SST) with an intervening high productivity (cool) interval centered at ∼ A.D. 1050. Reduced productivity and higher SST also characterize the record of the last ∼ 100 to 200 yr in these cores. Solar variability appears to be driving productivity cycles, as intervals of increased radiocarbon production (sunspot minima) correlate with intervals of enhanced productivity. It is proposed that increased winter cooling of the atmosphere above southwest U.S. during sunspot minima causes intensification of the northwest winds that blow down the Gulf during the late fall to early spring, leading to intensified overturn of surface waters and enhanced productivity.

A new silicoflagellate species, Dictyocha franshepardii Bukry, is described and illustrated.