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Strong biological controls on Sr/Ca ratios in aragonitic marine bivalve shells
Gillikin, D.P.; Lorrain, A.; Navez, J.; Taylor, J.W.; André, L.; Keppens, E.; Baeyens, W.; Dehairs, F. (2005). Strong biological controls on Sr/Ca ratios in aragonitic marine bivalve shells. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 6(5): Q05009 (16 pp.).
In: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. American Geophysical Union: Washington, DC. ISSN 1525-2027; e-ISSN 1525-2027, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    aragonite; biogenic carbonate; mollusk shell; paleotemperature proxy; strontium; oxygen isotopes; geochemistry : major and trace element geochemistry; oceanography : biological and chemical : geochemistry; oceanography : biological and chemical : stable isotopes

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  • Gillikin, D.P., meer
  • Lorrain, A.
  • Navez, J., meer
  • Taylor, J.W.

    It is well known that skeletal remains of carbonate secreting organisms can provide a wealth of information about past environments. Sr/Ca ratios have been successfully used as a temperature proxy in corals and sclerosponges. Previous work on aragonitic bivalve shells has not been conclusive but suggests a major control of growth rate on Sr/Ca ratios. As many studies have used bivalve growth rates to determine temperature, we tested if Sr/Ca ratios could predict temperature through its relationship with growth rate. Shells from the two species of clams from the same family (veneroidea) studied here, Saxidomus giganteus and Mercenaria mercenaria, show vastly different seasonal Sr/Ca profiles. A strong relationship between average annual Sr/Ca ratios and annual growth rate was found in S. giganteus shells from both Washington (R2 = 0.87) and Alaska (R2 = 0.64), USA, but not in M. mercenaria shells from North Carolina, USA. Furthermore, the Sr/Ca-growth rate relationship was also evident upon a more detailed inspection of subannual growth rates in S. giganteus (R2 = 0.73). Although there were significant positive correlations between Sr/Ca ratios and temperature in S. giganteus shells, the correlations were weak (0.09 < R2 < 0.27), and thus Sr/Ca ratios cannot be used as a reliable temperature proxy in these species of aragonitic bivalves. It is clear from this study that Sr/Ca ratios are not under thermodynamic control in either clam species, since thermodynamics predict a negative correlation between Sr/Ca ratios and temperature in aragonite. This points toward dominance of biological processes in the regulation of Sr2+. This is also reflected by the largely differing Sr/Ca partition coefficients (DSr) in these shells (DSr ˜ 0.25), when compared to inorganic, coral, and sclerosponge studies (DSr ˜ 1), all of which show a negative dependence of Sr/Ca on temperature. We suggest that caution be taken when using Sr/Ca in any biogenic aragonite as a temperature proxy when the DSr greatly deviates from one, as this indicates the dominance of biological controls on Sr/Ca ratios.

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