Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

Ocean acidification reduces hardness and stiffness of the Portuguese oyster shell with impaired microstructure: a hierarchical analysis

The rapidly intensifying process of ocean acidification (OA) due to anthropogenic CO2 is not only depleting carbonate ions necessary for calcification but also causing acidosis and disrupting internal pH homeostasis in several marine organisms. These negative consequences of OA on marine calcifiers, i.e. oyster species, have been very well documented in recent studies; however, the consequences of reduced or impaired calcification on the end-product, shells or skeletons, still remain one of the major research gaps. Shells produced by marine organisms under OA are expected to show signs of dissolution, disorganized microstructure and reduced mechanical properties. To bridge this knowledge gap and to test the above hypothesis, we investigated the effect of OA on juvenile shells of the commercially important oyster species, Magallana angulata, at ecologically and climatically relevant OA levels (using pH 8.1, 7.8, 7.5, 7.2). In lower pH conditions, a drop of shell hardness and stiffness was revealed by nanoindentation tests, while an evident porous internal microstructure was detected by scanning electron microscopy. Crystallographic orientation, on the other hand, showed no significant difference with decreasing pH using electron back-scattered diffraction (EBSD). These results indicate the porous internal microstructure may be the cause of the reduction in shell hardness and stiffness. The overall decrease of shell density observed from micro-computed tomography analysis indicates the porous internal microstructure may run through the shell, thus inevitably limiting the effectiveness of the shell’s defensive function. This study shows the potential deterioration of oyster shells induced by OA, especially in their early life stage. This knowledge is critical to estimate the survival and production of edible oysters in the future ocean.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces hardness and stiffness of the Portuguese oyster shell with impaired microstructure: a hierarchical analysis’

Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region


 • in situ shell dissolution and change in shell biomass were the predominant features observed in the live pteropods collected within and nearby CO2 vent regions.

• Low pteropod biomass shells (collected nearby the CO2 vents) were more fragile and therefore more prone to fracture than the more robust, high biomass shells (collected in the control stations).

• In the Gulf of Naples, intermittent shifts away from optimum Ωar values can significantly affect pteropod calcification despite waters remaining oversaturated.


Natural gradients of pH in the ocean are useful analogues for studying the projected impacts of Ocean Acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems. Here we document the in situ impact of submarine CO2 volcanic emissions (CO2 vents) on live shelled-pteropods (planktonic gastropods) species Creseis conica in the Gulf of Naples (Tyrrhenian Sea, Mediterranean). Since the currents inside the Gulf will likely drive those pelagic calcifying organisms into and out of the CO2 vent zones, we assume that pteropods will be occasionally exposed to the vents during their life cycle. Shell degradation and biomass were investigated in the stations located within and nearby the CO2 vent emission in relation to the variability of sea water carbonate chemistry. A relative decrease in shell biomass (22%), increase in incidence of shell fractures (38%) and extent of dissolution were observed in Creseis conica collected in the Gulf of Naples compared to those from the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea (control stations). These results suggest that discontinuous but recurrent exposure to highly variable carbonate chemistry could consistently affect the characteristic of the pteropod shells.

Continue reading ‘Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region’

Current CaCO3 dissolution at the seafloor caused by anthropogenic CO2

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2 leads to decreased pH, carbonate ion concentration, and saturation state with respect to CaCO3 minerals, causing increased dissolution of these minerals at the deep seafloor. This additional dissolution will figure prominently in the neutralization of man-made CO2. However, there has been no concerted assessment of the current extent of anthropogenic CaCO3 dissolution at the deep seafloor. Here, recent databases of bottom-water chemistry, benthic currents, and CaCO3 content of deep-sea sediments are combined with a rate model to derive the global distribution of benthic calcite dissolution rates and obtain primary confirmation of an anthropogenic component. By comparing preindustrial with present-day rates, we determine that significant anthropogenic dissolution now occurs in the western North Atlantic, amounting to 40–100% of the total seafloor dissolution at its most intense locations. At these locations, the calcite compensation depth has risen ∼300 m. Increased benthic dissolution was also revealed at various hot spots in the southern extent of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Our findings place constraints on future predictions of ocean acidification, are consequential to the fate of benthic calcifiers, and indicate that a by-product of human activities is currently altering the geological record of the deep sea.

Continue reading ‘Current CaCO3 dissolution at the seafloor caused by anthropogenic CO2’

Coral reef carbonate budgets and ecological drivers in the central Red Sea – a naturally high temperature and high total alkalinity environment

The structural framework provided by corals is crucial for reef ecosystem function and services, but high seawater temperatures can be detrimental to the calcification capacity of reef-building organisms. The Red Sea is very warm, but total alkalinity (TA) is naturally high and beneficial for reef accretion. To date, we know little about how such detrimental and beneficial abiotic factors affect each other and the balance between calcification and erosion on Red Sea coral reefs, i.e., overall reef growth, in this unique ocean basin. To provide estimates of present-day reef growth dynamics in the central Red Sea, we measured two metrics of reef growth, i.e., in situ net-accretion/-erosion rates (Gnet) determined by deployment of limestone blocks and ecosystem-scale carbonate budgets (Gbudget), along a cross-shelf gradient (25km, encompassing nearshore, midshore, and offshore reefs). Along this gradient, we assessed multiple abiotic (i.e., temperature, salinity, diurnal pH fluctuation, inorganic nutrients, and TA) and biotic (i.e., calcifier and epilithic bioeroder communities) variables. Both reef growth metrics revealed similar patterns from nearshore to offshore: net-erosive, neutral, and net-accretion states. The average cross-shelf Gbudget was 0.66kg CaCO3m−2yr−1, with the highest budget of 2.44kg CaCO3m−2yr−1 measured in the offshore reef. These data are comparable to the contemporary Gbudgets from the western Atlantic and Indian oceans, but lie well below optimal reef production (5–10kg CaCO3m−2yr−1) and below maxima recently recorded in remote high coral cover reef sites. However, the erosive forces observed in the Red Sea nearshore reef contributed less than observed elsewhere. A higher TA accompanied reef growth across the shelf gradient, whereas stronger diurnal pH fluctuations were associated with negative carbonate budgets. Noteworthy for this oligotrophic region was the positive effect of phosphate, which is a central micronutrient for reef building corals. While parrotfish contributed substantially to bioerosion, our dataset also highlights coralline algae as important local reef builders. Altogether, our study establishes a baseline for reef growth in the central Red Sea that should be useful in assessing trajectories of reef growth capacity under current and future ocean scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Coral reef carbonate budgets and ecological drivers in the central Red Sea – a naturally high temperature and high total alkalinity environment’

Evidence for shelf acidification during the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum

A transect of paleoshelf cores from Maryland and New Jersey contains an ~0.19 m to 1.61 m thick interval with reduced percentages of carbonate during the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Outer paleoshelf cores are barren of nannofossils and correspond to two minor disconformities. Middle paleoshelf cores contain a mixture of samples devoid of nannofossils and those with rare specimens characterized by significant dissolution (i.e., etching). The magnitude of the decrease in carbonate cannot be explained by dilution by clastic material or dissolution resulting from the oxidation of organic matter during early diagenesis. The observed preservation pattern implies a shoaling of the calcite compensation depth (CCD) and lysocline to the middle shelf. This reduced carbonate interval is observed during the onset of the PETM on other continental margins raising the possibility that extreme shoaling of the CCD and lysocline was a global signal, which is more significant than in previous estimates for the PETM. An alternative scenario is that shoaling was restricted to the northwest Atlantic, enhanced by regional and local factors (eutrophication from rivers, microbial activity associated with warming) that exacerbated the impact of acidification on the shelf.
Continue reading ‘Evidence for shelf acidification during the onset of the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Maximum’

Seasonal net ecosystem metabolism of the near-shore reef system in La Parguera, Puerto Rico

Changes in ocean chemistry as a direct response to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations is causing a reduction of pH in the surface ocean. While the dynamics and trends in carbonate chemistry are reasonably constrained for open ocean waters, the ways in which ocean acidification (OA) manifests within the shallow near-shore waters, where coral reefs reside, is less understood. Constraining near-reef variability in carbonate chemistry and net ecosystem metabolic processes across diel, seasonal, and annual scales is important in evaluating potential biogeochemical thresholds of OA that could result in ecological community changes. The OA Test-Bed at La Parguera Marine Reserve in Puerto Rico provides long-term carbonate chemistry observations at high-temporal resolution within a Caribbean near-shore coral reef ecosystem. A 1-D model was developed using the carbon mass balance approach to yield information about net ecosystem production and calcification processes occurring in the water column adjacent to the reef. We present results of nine years of sustained monitoring at the Enrique mid-shelf forereef, which provides for the characterization of temporal dynamics in carbonate chemistry and net ecosystem metabolic processes encompassing near-shore and upstream locations. Results indicate that net heterotrophy and net dissolution dominate over most of the year, while net autotrophic conditions coupled with calcification dominated from only January to mid-April. The average carbonate dissolution rate observed during summer is estimated at −2.19g CaCO3m−2 day−1 and net community dissolution persists 76% of the seasonal year despite the water column remaining super-saturated with respect to aragonite. This corresponds to −0.62 kg CaCO3m−2 year−1, classifying the Enrique fore-reef and off-reef areas in a net dissolutional state. The combination of thermodynamically-driven depressed aragonite saturation state and high rates of respiration during the summer cause conditions that jeopardize the most soluble carbonate minerals and the free energy in the system for calcification. These data suggest that the reef area and associated ecosystems upstream of the sampling location are experiencing a net loss of CaCO3, possibly compromising coral ecosystem health and reef accretion processes necessary for maintenance as sea level increases. Resiliency from other climate-scale stressors including rising sea surface temperatures and coral bleaching is likely to be compromised in a system exhibiting net carbonate loss.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal net ecosystem metabolism of the near-shore reef system in La Parguera, Puerto Rico’

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.

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

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book