Mg/Ca-temperature and seawater-test chemistry relationships in the shallow-dwelling large benthic foraminifera Operculina ammonoides

David Evans, Jonathan Erez, Shai Oron, Wolfgang Müller

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The foraminifera Mg/Ca palaeothermometer contributes significantly to our understanding of palaeoceanic temperature variation. However, since seawater Mg/Ca has undergone large secular variation and the relationship between seawater and test Mg/Ca has not been calibrated in detail for any species with a substantial fossil record, it is only possible to assess relative temperature changes in pre-Pleistocene fossil samples. In order to establish the basis of accurate quantitative Mg/Ca-derived deep-time temperature reconstructions, we have calibrated the relationship between test Mg/Ca, seawater chemistry and temperature in laboratory cultures of the shallow-dwelling large benthic species Operculina ammonoides. Operculina has a fossil range extending back to the early Paleogene and is the nearest living relative of the abundant genus Nummulites. We find a temperature sensitivity of 1.7% °C−1 and a linear relationship between the Mg distribution coefficient and seawater Mg/Ca (Mg/Casw) with m = −1.9 × 10-3, within error of the equivalent slope for inorganic calcite. The higher test Mg/Ca of O. ammonoides compared to inorganic calcite may be explained by an elevated pH of the calcifying fluid, implying that these foraminifera do not modify the Mg/Ca ratio of the seawater from which they calcify, differentiating them in this respect from most other perforate foraminifera. Applying these calibrations to previously published fossil data results in palaeo-Mg/Casw reconstruction consistent with independent proxy evidence. Furthermore, our data enable accurate absolute palaeotemperature reconstructions if Mg/Casw is constrained by another technique (e.g. ridge flank vein carbonate; fluid inclusions). Finally, we examine Li, Na, Sr and Ba incorporation into the test of O. ammonoides and discuss the control exerted by temperature, seawater chemistry, saturation state and growth rate on these emerging proxies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325–342
Number of pages18
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Early online date5 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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