The influence of skeletal micro-structures on potential proxy records in a bamboo coral

Gernot.Nehrke [ at ]


Assessing the physicochemical variability of the deeper ocean is currently hampered by limited instrumental time series and proxy records. Bamboo corals (Isididae) form a cosmopolitan family of calcitic deep sea corals that could fill this information gap via geochemical information recorded in their skeletons. Here we evaluate the suitability of high-resolution chemical imaging of bamboo coral skeletons for temperature and nutrient reconstruction. The applied elemental mapping techniques allow to verify the suitability of the chosen transect on the sample section for paleo-reconstructions and enhance the statistical precision of the reconstruction. We measured Mg/Ca via electron microprobe at 1 μm resolution and Ba/Ca via laser ablation ICP-MS at 35 μm resolution in a historic specimen of Keratoisis grayi from the Blake Plateau off Eastern Florida. Long-term growth temperatures of 7.1 ± 3.4 °C (2SD) that are in agreement with recent ambient temperature range can be reconstructed from Mg/Ca ratios provided that anomalously Mg-enriched structural features around the central axis and isolated features related to tissue attachment are avoided for reconstruction. Skeletal Ba/Ca measurements reflect mean seawater barium [Ba]SW concentrations ([Ba]SW = 51 ± 24 nmol kg−1 (2SD)), in agreement with instrumental data (47 nmol kg−1). We show for the first time that Ba/Ca forms concentric structures in a bamboo coral skeleton section. Our investigations suggest that, while bamboo coral skeletons do record environmental parameters in their mean chemical composition, the magnitude of environmental variability reconstructed from high-resolution chemical maps exceeds that expected from instrumental time series. This necessitates additional investigation of the factors driving bamboo coral skeletal composition.

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DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2018.12.027

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Flöter, S. , Fietzke, J. , Gutjahr, M. , Farmer, J. , Hönisch, B. , Nehrke, G. and Eisenhauer, A. (2019): The influence of skeletal micro-structures on potential proxy records in a bamboo coral , Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 248 , pp. 43-60 . doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2018.12.027

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