Posts Tagged 'paleo'

The influence of paleo-seawater chemistry on foraminifera trace element proxies and their application to deep-time paleo-reconstructions

The fossilized remains of the calcite shells of foraminifera comprise one of the most continuous and reliable records of the geologic evolution of climate and ocean chemistry. The trace elemental composition of foraminiferal shells has been shown to systematically respond to seawater properties, providing a way to reconstruct oceanic conditions throughout the last 170 million years. In particular, the boron/calcium ratio of foraminiferal calcite (B/Ca) is an emerging proxy for the seawater carbonate system, which plays a major role in regulating atmospheric CO2 and thus Earth’s climate. In planktic foraminifera, previous culture studies have shown that shell B/Ca increases with seawater pH, which is hypothesized to result from increased incorporation of borate ion (B(OH)4 -) at high pH; increasing pH increases the [B(OH)4 -] of seawater. However, further experiments showed that B/Ca responds to both pH and seawater dissolved inorganic carbon concentration (DIC), leading to the hypothesis that B/Ca is driven by the [B(OH)4 -/DIC] ratio of seawater. Because pH (and thus B(OH)4 -) can be determined via the δ11B composition of foraminiferal calcite, B/Ca therefore may provide an opportunity to determine seawater DIC in the geologic past.

Continue reading ‘The influence of paleo-seawater chemistry on foraminifera trace element proxies and their application to deep-time paleo-reconstructions’

Short-term variation of ooid mineralogy in the Triassic-Jurassic boundary interval and its environmental implications: evidence from the equatorial Ghalilah Formation, United Arab Emirates


• Provide data from potentially continuous Tr-J carbonate sections

• Provide detailed studies of Tr-J ooids that have been scarcely studied before

• Give more information about Tr-J extinction-recovery scenarios

• Variation of ooid mineralogies serves as a new marker for ocean acidification in the equatorial realm.


In the Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) interval, only a few continuous carbonate sections have been reported, and detailed studies about ooids and their significance are scarce. This study focuses on abundant ooids in potentially continuous T-J carbonate sections representing equatorial, shallow marine environments. Mineralogical changes of ooids are proposed as a marker for transitional marine chemistry including carbonate saturation after ocean acidification and provide information about crisis and recovery scenarios for the initial CIE (carbon isotope excursion) and subsequent positive CIE. In the Ghalilah Formation, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Sakhra Member is deposited immediately above the T-J boundary. Based on field work and thin section observation, the Sakhra Member can be divided into three coarsening-upward cycles (in ascending order, named C1–C3), each of which consists of peloidal mudstone/wackestone in the lower part and oolitic packstone/grainstone in the upper part. Petrological observation (thin section, SEM), stable isotope (inorganic carbon and oxygen) and elemental analysis suggest temporal change of original mineralogy from C1 to C3 ooids: from high-Mg calcite in C1 ooids to aragonite in C2 and C3 ooids. The mineralogical change of ooids is possibly related to variations in seawater carbonate saturation. The lower carbonate saturation indicated by C1 ooids reflects a transitional period before recovery from ocean acidification due to massive and rapid release of acidic gases (CO2 and SO2) by CAMP eruptions. Subsequently, from C1 to C3 ooids, seawater gradually experienced increasing carbonate saturation and increasing microbial carbonate precipitation. Increased microbial activities combined with elevated terrestrial influx may have significantly reduced the atmospheric CO2 concentration and restored carbonate saturation, which laid the foundation for full biotic recovery.

Continue reading ‘Short-term variation of ooid mineralogy in the Triassic-Jurassic boundary interval and its environmental implications: evidence from the equatorial Ghalilah Formation, United Arab Emirates’

New constraints on massive carbon release and recovery processes during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Recent geochemical and sedimentological evidence constrains the response of seawater chemistry to carbon injection during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM): foraminiferal boron-based proxy records constrain the magnitude and duration of surface ocean acidification, while new deep sea records document a carbonate compensation depth (CCD) over-shoot during the recovery. Such features can be used to more tightly constrain simulations of the event within carbon cycle models, and thus test mechanisms for carbon release, buffering, and sequestration. We use the LOSCAR carbon cycle model to examine first the onset of, and then recovery from the PETM. We systematically varied the mass, rate, and location of C release along with changes in ocean circulation patterns as well as initial conditions such as pre-event pCO2 and the strength of weathering feedbacks. A range of input parameters produced output that successfully conformed to observational constraints on the event’s onset. However, none of the successful scenarios featured surface seawater aragonite or calcite undersaturation at even peak PETM conditions (in contrast to anthropogenic acidification projections), and most runs featured approximately a doubling of pCO2 relative to pre-event conditions (suggesting a high PETM climate sensitivity). Further runs test scenarios of the body and recovery of the PETM against records of sustained acidification followed by rapid pH recovery in boron records, as well as the timing and depth of the CCD overshoot. Successful scenarios all require a sustained release of carbon over many tens of thousands of years following the onset (comparable to the mass released during the onset) and removal of carbon (likely as burial of organic carbon in addition to elevated chemical weathering rates) during the recovery. This sequence of events is consistent with a short-lived feedback involving the release of 13C-depleted C in response to initial warming followed by its subsequent sequestration during the cooling phase.

Continue reading ‘New constraints on massive carbon release and recovery processes during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’

Seawater pH reconstruction using boron isotopes in multiple planktonic foraminifera species with different depth habitats and their potential to constrain pH and pCO2 gradients

Boron isotope systematics of planktonic foraminifera from core-top sediments and culture experiments have been studied to investigate the sensitivity of δ11B of their calcite tests to seawater pH. However, our knowledge of the relationship between δ11B and pH remains incomplete for several taxa. Thus, to expand the potential scope of application of this proxy, we report data for 7 different species of planktonic foraminifera from sediment core-tops. We utilize a method for the measurement of small samples of foraminifera and calculate the δ11B-calcite sensitivity to pH for Globigerinoides ruber, Trilobus sacculifer (sacc or w/o sacc), Orbulina universa, Pulleniatina obliquiloculata, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei, Globorotalia menardii and Globorotalia tumida, including for unstudied coretops and species. The sensitivity of δ11Bcarbonate to δ11Bborate (eg. Δδ11Bcarbonate/Δδ11Bborate) in core-tops is close to unity. Deep-dwelling species closely follow the core-top calibration for O. universa, which is attributed to respiration-driven microenvironments, likely caused by light limitation for symbiont-bearing foraminifera. These taxa have diverse ecological preferences and are from sites that span a range of oceanographic regimes, including some that are in regions of air-sea equilibrium and others that are out of equilibrium with the atmosphere. Our data support the premise that utilizing boron isotope measurements of multiple species within a sediment core can be utilized to constrain vertical profiles of pH and pCO2 at sites spanning different oceanic regimes, thereby constraining changes in vertical pH gradients and yielding insights into the past behavior of the oceanic carbon pump.

Continue reading ‘Seawater pH reconstruction using boron isotopes in multiple planktonic foraminifera species with different depth habitats and their potential to constrain pH and pCO2 gradients’

Marine carbonate factories: a global model of carbonate platform distribution

Platform carbonates are a major component of the Earth system, but their spatial distribution through geological times is difficult to reconstruct, due to the incompleteness of geological records, sampling heterogeneity, and their intrinsic complexity. Beyond this complexity, carbonates are not randomly distributed in the world oceans, neither in the modern nor in the past, and thus, global trends exist. In the present review, we focus on the understanding of the spatial distribution of carbonate production at a global scale. We use a deterministic approach, which focuses on discriminating components, stratigraphic architectures, and environmental features to relate shallow-water carbonate production to oceanographic parameters. The work is based on extensive literature reviews on carbonate platforms. Ecological niche modelling coupled with deep-time general circulation models is used to calibrate a predictive tool of carbonate factory distribution. A carbonate factory function is set up that is based on sea-surface oceanographic parameters (temperature, salinity, and primary productivity). The model was tested using remote-sensing and in situ oceanographic data of Modern times, while outputs of paleoceanographic models are utilized for Lower Aptian (Cretaceous) modelling. The approach allows determining four neritic carbonate factories that are called the marine biochemical, photozoan, photo-C-, and heterozoan factories. The model finely simulates the global distribution of Lower Aptian and Modern carbonate platforms. Carbonate factories appear to thrive for specific ranges along the environmental gradient of carbonate saturation. This conceptual scheme appears to be able to provide a simple, universal model of paleoclimatic zones of shallow-water marine carbonates.

Continue reading ‘Marine carbonate factories: a global model of carbonate platform distribution’

Mediterranean cold-water corals as paleoclimate archives

Scleractinian cold-water corals preserve in their aragonite skeleton information on the past changes of the physico-chemical properties of the seawater in which they grew. Such information is stored as geochemical signals, such as changes in trace elements concentration (B/Ca, Li/Mg, P/Ca, Sr/Ca, Ba/Ca, U/Ca) or stable and radiogenic isotopes composition (δ11B, δ13C, δ18O, 14C, εNd), that are usually converted into environmental parameters using empirical calibration equations. The aragonite skeleton of cold-water corals is sufficiently uranium-rich to be suitable for U-series dating, providing precise and accurate ages for the last 600–700 kyrs. This opens the possibility to obtain reconstructions of key oceanographic parameters for the intermediate and deep water masses at sub-decadal scale resolution for climatically-relevant time windows in the past. However, part of the geochemical signal incorporated into the coral skeleton is modulated by the physiology of the coral, which complicates the interpretation of the geochemical proxies. This “vital effect” needs to be taken into account and corrected for to obtain reliable reconstructions of past changes in seawater temperature, pH and nutrient content. On the other hand, these biologically-induced geochemical signals can be used to investigate the processes controlling coral biomineralisation and better understand the resilience of cold-water corals to environmental and climate changes.

In the recent years, Mediterranean cold-water corals have been targeted for geochemically-oriented studies and their trace elements and isotopes composition has contributed significantly to developing and understanding new and established coral proxies. Living in an environment characterised by relatively warm seawater temperatures (13–14 °C) and high pH (8.1), the Mediterranean cold-water corals provide the end-member geochemical composition useful to derive empirical calibration equations. In particular, the analysis of several specimens of the cold-water corals species Lophelia pertusa, Madrepora oculata and Desmophyllum dianthus live-collected in the western, central and eastern Mediterranean Sea, has contributed to the development of the Li/Mg thermometer, boron isotopes pH proxy and P/Ca nutrient proxy, as well as a better understanding of the neodymium isotopic composition of cold-water corals as a water mass tracer. A multi-proxy approach has been recently applied to precisely U/Th-dated cold-water corals fragments from coral-bearing sediment cores retrieved in the western and central Mediterranean Sea, showing large changes in the dynamics of the intermediate waters during the Holocene. Further investigations of fossil cold-water corals specimens from different Mediterranean locations will open new perspectives on the reconstruction of past changes in the physico-chemical properties of sub-surface waters and their potential role in modifying the Mediterranean climate.

Continue reading ‘Mediterranean cold-water corals as paleoclimate archives’

Paleobiological traits that determined Scleractinian coral survival and proliferation during the late Paleocene and early Eocene hyperthermals

Coral reefs are particularly sensitive to environmental disturbances, such as rapid shifts in temperature or carbonate saturation. Work on modern reefs has suggested that some corals will fare better than others in times of stress and that their life history traits might correlate with species survival. These same traits can be applied to fossil taxa to assess whether life history traits correspond with coral survival through past intervals of stress similar to future climate predictions. This study aims to identify whether ecological selection (based on physiology, behavior, habitat, etc.) plays a role in the long‐term survival of corals during the late Paleocene and early Eocene. The late Paleocene‐early Eocene interval is associated with multiple hyperthermal events that correspond to rises in atmospheric pCO2 and sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and increases in weathering and turbidity. Coral reefs are rare during the late Paleocene and early Eocene, but despite the lack of reef habitat, corals do not experience an extinction at the generic level and there is little extinction at the species level. In fact, generic and species richness increases throughout the late Paleocene and early Eocene. We show that corals with certain traits (coloniality, carnivorous, or suspension feeding diet, hermaphroditic brooding reproduction, living in clastic settings) are more likely to survive climate change in the early Eocene. These findings have important implications for modern coral ecology and allow us to make more nuanced predictions about which taxa will have higher extinction risk in present‐day climate change.

Continue reading ‘Paleobiological traits that determined Scleractinian coral survival and proliferation during the late Paleocene and early Eocene hyperthermals’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book