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Influence of test size, water depth, and ecology on Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, ?18O and ?13C in nine modern species of planktic foraminifers

Friedrich, Oliver, Schiebel, Ralf, Wilson, Paul A., Weldeab, Syee, Beer, Christopher J., Cooper, Matthew J. and Fiebig, Jens (2012) Influence of test size, water depth, and ecology on Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, ?18O and ?13C in nine modern species of planktic foraminifers Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 319-320, pp. 133-145. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.12.002).

Record type: Article


Mg/Ca palaeothermometry in foraminiferal calcite is a widely applied tool in palaeoceanography. However, our understanding of the effects of planktic foraminiferal ecology and early diagenesis on test calcite Mg/Ca is limited. Here we report results of a study designed to shed new light on ecological, size-related and very early (water column) diagenetic controls on Mg/Ca in planktic foraminiferal calcite. We analysed Mg/Ca and stable isotopes of nine modern planktic foraminiferal species across fourteen mostly 50 ?m-window sieve fractions in a core-top sample from the North Atlantic Ocean. We also analysed Mg/Ca in four of these nine species from plankton-tow samples collected from 0 to 2500 m water depth in the North Atlantic Ocean and Arabian Sea. Our core-top study confirms that sensitivity of Mg/Ca to change in test size is species-specific but reveals an overall decrease in Mg/Ca with increasing test size in all but one species, Orbulina universa, for which Mg/Ca increases with size. These findings are broadly consistent with known ecological behaviour suggesting that the size-related signal is largely environmentally rather than calcification-rate controlled. Our results underscore the need to undertake Mg/Ca palaeothermometry on narrow size fractions of planktic foraminifers, particularly for shallow-dwelling species such as G. bulloides and G. ruber where Mg/Ca is most sensitive to test size across the size range of 200–350 ?m. Our plankton-tow data from the Arabian Sea are in agreement with in-situ temperatures. In contrast, our data from the North Atlantic Ocean reveal large variability and marked offsets (to warmer values) from in-situ temperatures that are interpreted to reflect lateral advection from the south, storm-induced vertical mixing of the water column and/or the influence of surface-water salinity on the Mg/Ca signal. None of our plankton-tow Mg/Ca data shows any evidence of test dissolution in the water column. Our study provides important verification that the Mg/Ca signal recorded during calcification does not undergo diagenetic degradation during test transport to the sea floor, thereby satisfying an important precondition of its palaeo-proxy utility.

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Published date: 2012
Keywords: Mg/Ca, planktic foraminifera, ecology, dissolution, core-top, plankton tow
Organisations: Geochemistry, Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate


Local EPrints ID: 338021
ISSN: 0012-821X
PURE UUID: 845f4176-1768-4c89-9d2a-55d47ce910d3
ORCID for Matthew J. Cooper: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 08 May 2012 13:36
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:59

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Author: Oliver Friedrich
Author: Ralf Schiebel
Author: Paul A. Wilson
Author: Syee Weldeab
Author: Christopher J. Beer
Author: Jens Fiebig

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