Posts Tagged 'sediment'

Investigating controls on boron isotope ratios in shallow marine carbonates

The boron isotope-pH proxy has been widely used to reconstruct past ocean pH values. In both planktic foraminifera and corals, species-specific calibrations are required in order to reconstruct absolute values of pH, due to the prevalence of so-called vital effects — physiological modification of the primary environmental signals by the calcifying organisms. Shallow marine abiotic carbonate (e.g. ooids and cements) could conceivably avoid any such calibration requirement, and therefore provide a potentially useful archive for reconstructions in deep (pre-Cenozoic) time. However, shallow marine abiotic carbonates could also be affected by local shifts in pH caused by microbial photosynthesis and respiration, something that has up to now not been fully tested. In this study, we present boron isotope measurements from shallow modern marine carbonates, from the Bahama Bank and Belize to investigate the potential of using shallow water carbonates as pH archives, and to explore the role of microbial processes in driving nominally ‘abiogenic’ carbonate deposition. For Bahama bank samples, our boron-based pH estimates derived from a range of carbonate types (i.e. ooids, peloids, hardground cements, carbonate mud, stromatolitic micrite and calcified filament micrite) are higher than the estimated modern mean-annual seawater pH values for this region. Furthermore, the majority (73%) of our marine carbonate-based pH estimates fall out of the range of the estimated pre-industrial seawater pH values for this region. In shallow sediment cores, we did not observe a correlation between measured pore water pH and boron-derived pH estimates, suggesting boron isotope variability is a depositional rather than early diagenetic signal. For Belize reef cements, conversely, the pH estimates are lower than likely in situ seawater pH at the time of cement formation. This study indicates the potential for complications when using shallow marine non-skeletal carbonates as marine pH archives. In addition, variability in δ11B based pH estimates provides additional support for the idea that photosynthetic CO2 uptake plays a significant role in driving carbonate precipitation in a wide range of shallow water carbonates.

Continue reading ‘Investigating controls on boron isotope ratios in shallow marine carbonates’

Development and application of foraminiferal carbonate system proxies to quantify ocean acidification in the California Current

The oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon has mitigated climate change, but has also resulted in a global average 0.1 decline in surface ocean pH over 20th century known as ocean acidification. The parallel reduction in carbonate ion concentration ([CO32-]) and the saturation state of seawater (Ω) has caused many major calcium carbonate-secreting organisms such as planktonic foraminifera to exhibit impaired calcification. We develop proxy calibrations and down core records that use calcification and geochemical characteristics of planktonic foraminifera as proxies for the marine carbonate system. This study focuses specifically on the surface ocean chemistry of the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), which has been identified as a region of rapidly progressing ocean acidification due to natural upwelling processes and the low buffering capacity of these waters. The calibration portion of this study uses marine sediments collected by the Santa Barbara Basin (SBB), California sediment-trapping program located in the central region of the CCE. We calibrate the relationships of Globigerina bulloides calcification intensity to [CO3 2-] and the B/Ca ratios of G. bulloides, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei and Neogloboquadrina incompta shells to Ω calcite using in situ measurements and model simulations of these independent variables. By applying these proxy methods to down core, our records from the SBB indicate a 20% reduction in foraminiferal calcification since ~1900, translating to a 35% decline in [CO 32-] in the CCE over this period. Our high-resolution calcification record also reveals a substantial interannual to decadal modulation of ocean acidification in the CCE related to the sign of Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Niño Southern Oscillation. In the future we can expect these climatic modes to both enhance and moderate anthropogenic ocean acidification. Based on our historic record, we predict that if atmospheric CO2 reaches 540 ppm by the year 2100 as predicted by a conservative CO3 pathway, [CO32-] will experience a net reduction of 55%, resulting in at least a 30% reduction in calcification of planktonic foraminifera that will likely be mirrored by other adversely affected marine calcifiers.

Continue reading ‘Development and application of foraminiferal carbonate system proxies to quantify ocean acidification in the California Current’

The uronic acid content of coccolith-associated polysaccharides provides insight into coccolithogenesis and past climate

Unicellular phytoplanktonic algae (coccolithophores) are among the most prolific producers of calcium carbonate on the planet, with a production of ∼1026 coccoliths per year. During their lith formation, coccolithophores mainly employ coccolith-associated polysaccharides (CAPs) for the regulation of crystal nucleation and growth. These macromolecules interact with the intracellular calcifying compartment (coccolith vesicle) through the charged carboxyl groups of their uronic acid residues. Here we report the isolation of CAPs from modern day coccolithophores and their prehistoric predecessors and we demonstrate that their uronic acid content (UAC) offers a species-specific signature. We also show that there is a correlation between the UAC of CAPs and the internal saturation state of the coccolith vesicle that, for most geologically abundant species, is inextricably linked to carbon availability. These findings suggest that the UAC of CAPs reports on the adaptation of coccolithogenesis to environmental changes and can be used for the estimation of past CO2 concentrations.

Continue reading ‘The uronic acid content of coccolith-associated polysaccharides provides insight into coccolithogenesis and past climate’

The impact of electrogenic sulfur oxidation on the biogeochemistry of coastal sediments: A field study

Electro-active sediments distinguish themselves from other sedimentary environments by the presence of microbially induced electrical currents in the surface layer of the sediment. The electron transport is generated by metabolic activity of long filamentous cable bacteria, in a process referred to as electrogenic sulfur oxidation (e-SOx). Laboratory experiments have shown that e-SOx exerts a large impact on the sediment geochemistry, but its influence on the in situ geochemistry of marine sediments has not been previously investigated. Here, we document the biogeochemical cycling associated with e-SOx in a cohesive coastal sediment in the North Sea (Station 130, Belgian Coastal Zone) during three campaigns (January, March and May 2014). Fluorescence in situ hybridization showed that cable bacteria were present in high densities throughout the sampling period, and that filaments penetrated up to 7 cm deep in the sediment, which is substantially deeper than previously recorded. High resolution microsensor profiling (pH, H2S and O2) revealed the typical geochemical fingerprint of e-SOx, with a wide separation (up to 4.8 cm) between the depth of oxygen penetration and the depth of sulfide appearance. The metabolic activity of cable bacteria induced a current density of 25–32 mA m−2 and created an electrical field of 12–17 mV m−1 in the upper centimeters of the sediment. This electrical field created an ionic drift, which strongly affected the depth profiles and fluxes of major cations (Ca2+, Fe2+) and anions (SO42−) in the pore water. The strong acidification of the pore water at depth resulted in the dissolution of calcium carbonates and iron sulfides, thus leading to a strong accumulation of iron, calcium and manganese in the pore water. While sulfate accumulated in the upper centimeters, no significant effect of e-SOx was found on ammonium, phosphate and silicate depth profiles. Overall, our results demonstrate that cable bacteria can strongly modulate the sedimentary biogeochemical cycling under in situ conditions.

Continue reading ‘The impact of electrogenic sulfur oxidation on the biogeochemistry of coastal sediments: A field study’

Additive effects of acidification and mineralogy on calcium isotopes in Triassic/Jurassic boundary limestones

The end-Triassic mass extinction coincided with a negative δ13C excursion, consistent with release of 13C-depleted CO2 from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. However, the amount of carbon released and its effects on ocean chemistry are poorly constrained. The coupled nature of the carbon and calcium cycles allows calcium isotopes to be used for constraining carbon cycle dynamics and vice versa. We present a high-resolution calcium isotope (δ44/40Ca) record from 100 m of marine limestone spanning the Triassic/Jurassic boundary in two stratigraphic sections from northern Italy. Immediately above the extinction horizon and the associated negative excursion in δ13C, δ44/40Ca decreases by ∼0.8‰ in 20 m of section and then recovers to preexcursion values. Coupled numerical models of the geological carbon and calcium cycles demonstrate that this δ44/40Ca excursion is too large to be explained by changes to seawater δ44/40Ca alone, regardless of CO2 injection volume and duration. Less than 20% of the δ44/40Ca excursion can be attributed to acidification. The remaining 80% likely reflects a higher proportion of aragonite in the original sediment, based largely on high concentrations of Sr in the samples. Our study demonstrates that coupled models of the carbon and calcium cycles have the potential to help distinguish contributions of primary seawater isotopic changes from local or diagenetic effects on the δ44/40Ca of carbonate sediments. Differentiating between these effects is critical for constraining the impact of ocean acidification during the end-Triassic mass extinction, as well as for interpreting other environmental events in the geologic past.

Continue reading ‘Additive effects of acidification and mineralogy on calcium isotopes in Triassic/Jurassic boundary limestones’

Effects of CO2-driven sediment acidification on infaunal marine bivalves: A synthesis

While ocean acidification (OA) effects on marine organisms are well documented, impacts of sediment acidification on infaunal organisms are relatively understudied. Here we synthesize CO2-driven sediment acidification effects on infaunal marine bivalves. While sediment carbonate system conditions can already exceed near-future OA projections, sediments can become even more acidic as overlying seawater pH decreases. Evidence suggests that infaunal bivalves experience shell dissolution, more lesions, and increased mortality in more acidic sediments; effects on heavy metal accumulation appear complex and uncertain. Infaunal bivalves can avoid negative functional consequences of sediment acidification by reducing burrowing and increasing dispersal in more acidic sediments, irrespective of species or life stage; elevated temperature may compromise this avoidance behaviour. The combined effects of sediment acidification and other environmental stressors are virtually unknown. While it is evident that sediment acidification can impact infaunal marine bivalves, more research is needed to confidently predict effects under future ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of CO2-driven sediment acidification on infaunal marine bivalves: A synthesis’

Exploring the “Sharkcano”: biogeochemical observations of the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands)

An expedition to the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands) in January 2015 was serendipitously timed with a rare lull in volcanic activity that permitted access to the inside of Kavachi’s active crater and its flanks. The isolated location of Kavachi and its explosive behavior normally restrict scientific access to the volcano’s summit, limiting previous observational efforts to surface imagery and peripheral water-column data. This article presents medium-resolution bathymetry of the main peak along with benthic imagery, biological observations of multiple trophic levels living inside the active crater, petrological and geochemical analysis of samples from the crater rim, measurements of water temperature and gas flux over the summit, and descriptions of the hydrothermal plume structure. A second peak was identified to the southwest of the main summit and displayed evidence of diffuse-flow venting. Microbial samples collected from the summit indicate chemosynthetic populations dominated by sulfur-reducing ε-proteobacteria. Populations of gelatinous animals, small fish, and sharks were observed inside the active crater, raising new questions about the ecology of active submarine volcanoes and the extreme environments in which large marine animals can exist.

Continue reading ‘Exploring the “Sharkcano”: biogeochemical observations of the Kavachi submarine volcano (Solomon Islands)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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