The dissolution behavior of biogenic calcites in seawater and a possible role for magnesium and organic carbon

We present the dissolution kinetics of mixed planktic foraminifera, the benthic foraminifera Amphistegina, the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, and the soft coral Rhythismia fulvum in seawater. Dissolution rates were measured across a large range of saturation states (Ω = 0.99–0.2) by dissolving 13C-labeled calcites in natural seawater undersaturated with respect to calcite. 13C-label was incorporated into biogenic calcite by culturing marine calcifiers in 13C-labeled natural seawater. Net dissolution rates were calculated as the slope of seawater δ13C versus time in a closed seawater-calcite system. All calcites show distinct, nonlinear, dependencies on seawater saturation state when normalized by mass or by specific surface area. For example, coccolith calcite dissolves at a similar rate to inorganic calcite near equilibrium when normalized by surface area, but dissolves much more slowly far from equilibrium. Mass loss from foraminiferal tests is correlated with a decrease in Mg/Ca of the solid, indicating that Mg-rich phases are preferentially leached out at even mild undersaturations. Dissolution also appears to strongly affect test B/Ca. Finally, we provide an interpretation of surface area-normalized biogenic calcite dissolution rates as a function of their Mg and organic carbon content. Near-equilibrium dissolution rates of all calcites measured here show a strong, nonlinear dependence on Mg content. Far-from-equilibrium dissolution rates decrease strongly as a function of organic carbon content. These results help to build a framework for understanding the underlying mechanisms of rate differences between biogenic calcites, and bear important implications for the dissolution of high-Mg calcites in view of ocean acidification.

Subhas A. V., Rollins N. E., Berelson W. M., Erez J., Ziverie P., Langer G. & Adkins J. F., in press. The dissolution behavior of biogenic calcites in seawater and a possible role for magnesium and organic carbon. Marine Chemistry. Article (subscription required).

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