Ba, B, and U element partitioning in magnesian calcite skeletons of Octocorallia corals

Barium, boron and uranium element partitioning and oxygen and carbon isotope fractionation of high-Mg calcite skeletons of Octocorallia corals were investigated. The dissolved Ba concentration in seawater and the coral Ba/Ca ratio showed a clear positive correlation. The empirically derived barium partition coefficient is comparable to previous data for not only calcitic corals but also intermediate- to deep-water-dwelling scleractinian corals whose skeletons are composed of aragonite. Octocorallia corals are geologically important producers of biominerals, and they provide long-term records (up to hundreds of years) of environmental conditions in the deep ocean. Our data suggest that Ba/Ca ratios in Octocorallia corals may be a useful proxy for nutrients in intermediate and deep waters. The Ba/Ca ratio, a possible proxy for pH or carbonate ion concentration in seawater, showed the largest correlation with δ13C among the examined parameters. This result implies that the pH of the extracytoplasmic calcifying fluid (ECF) simultaneously influences δ18O, δ13C, and Ba/Ca by influencing the relative contributions of dissolved carbon sources in the ECF. Positive correlations of Ba/Ca with δ18 and δ13C suggest that δ18 and δ13C are enriched in light isotopes when conditions are less alkaline, suggesting a potential role of biological alkalinity pumping becomes more favorable with decreasing calcifying fluid pH. Substantial inter- and intra-specimen variations in Ba/Ca suggest that physicochemical factors do not exert a dominant systematic control on U incorporation.

Yoshimura T., Suzuki A. & Iwasaki N., 2015. Ba, B, and U element partitioning in magnesian calcite skeletons of Octocorallia corals. Biogeosciences Discussions 12:413-444. Article.

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