Sediment focusing creates 100-ka cycles in interplanetary dust accumulation on the ontong java plateau

Sean M. Higgins, Robert F. Anderson, Franco Marcantonio, Peter Schlosser, Martin Stute

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The accumulation of extraterrestrial 3He, a tracer for interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), in sediments from the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP; western equatorial Pacific Ocean) has been shown previously to exhibit a regular cyclicity during the late Pleistocene, with a period of ∼100 ka. Those results have been interpreted to reflect periodic variability in the global accretion of IDPs that, in turn, has been linked to changes in the inclination of Earth’s orbit with respect to the invariable plane of the solar system. Here we show that the accumulation in OJP sediments of authigenic 230Th, produced by radioactive decay of 234U in seawater, exhibits a 100-ka cyclicity similar in phase and amplitude to that evident in the 3He record. We interpret the similar patterns of 230Th and 3He accumulation to reflect a common origin within the ocean climate system. Comparing spatial and temporal patterns of sediment accumulation against regional patterns of biological productivity and against the well-established pattern of CaCO3 dissolution in the deep Pacific Ocean leads to the further conclusion that a common 100-ka cycle in accumulation of biogenic, authigenic and extraterrestrial constituents in OJP sediments reflects the influence of climate-related changes in sediment focusing, rather than changes in the rate of production or supply of sedimentary constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-397
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmis dust
  • He-3
  • Ontong Java Plateau
  • Sediment supply
  • Th-230

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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