Coupled Mg/Ca and clumped isotope analyses of foraminifera provide consistent water temperatures

Sebastian F.M. Breitenbach*, Maryline J. Mleneck-Vautravers, Anna Lena Grauel, Li Lo, Stefano M. Bernasconi, Inigo A. Müller, James Rolfe, Fernando Gázquez, Mervyn Greaves, David A. Hodell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
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The reliable determination of past seawater temperature is fundamental to paleoclimate studies. We test the robustness of two paleotemperature proxies by combining Mg/Ca and clumped isotopes (Δ47) on the same specimens of core top planktonic foraminifera. The strength of this approach is that Mg/Ca and Δ47 are measured on the same specimens of foraminifera, thereby providing two independent estimates of temperature. This replication constitutes a rigorous test of individual methods with the advantage that the same approach can be applied to fossil specimens. Aliquots for Mg/Ca and clumped analyses are treated in the same manner following a modified cleaning procedure of foraminifera for trace element and isotopic analyses. We analysed eight species of planktonic foraminifera from coretop samples over a wide range of temperatures from 2 to 29°C. We provide a new clumped isotope temperature calibrations using subaqueous cave carbonates, which is consistent with recent studies. Tandem Mg/Ca–Δ47 results follow an exponential curve as predicted by temperature calibration equations. Observed deviations from the predicted Mg/Ca-Δ47 relationship are attributed to the effects of Fe-Mn oxide coatings, contamination, or dissolution of foraminiferal tests. This coupled approach provides a high degree of confidence in temperature estimates when Mg/Ca and Δ47 yield concordant results, and can be used to infer the past δ18O of seawater (δ18Osw) for paleoclimate studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Early online date16 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


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