Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Benjamin P. Flower, Ph.D.


Little Ice Age, Medieval warm period, Foraminifera, Climate change, Holocene


A continuous, decadal-scale resolution multi-proxy record of climate variability over the past 1400 years in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) was constructed from a box core recovered in the Pigmy Basin. Proxies include paired analyses of Mg/Ca and oxygen isotopes in the white variety of the planktic foraminifer Globigerinoides ruber and relative abundance variations of G. sacculifer in the foraminifer assemblages. Two multi-decadal intervals of sustained high Mg/Ca values indicate GOM sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) were as warm or warmer than near-modern conditions between 1000 and 1400 yrs BP. Foraminiferal Mg/Ca values during the coolest interval of the Little Ice Age (ca. 250 yrs BP) indicate that SST was 2 - 2.5 degrees Celcius below modern SST. Four minima in the Mg/Ca record between 900 and 250 yrs BP correspond with the Maunder, Spörer, Wolf and Oort sunspot minima, suggesting a link between solar insolation and SST variability in the GOM. An abrupt shift recorded in both the oxygen isotopic ratio of calcite and relative abundance of G. sacculifer occurs ~600 yrs BP. The shift in the Pigmy Basin record corresponds with a shift in the sea-salt-sodium (ssNa) record from the GISP2 ice core, linking changes in high-latitude atmospheric circulation with the subtropical Atlantic Ocean.