Micron-scale intrashell oxygen isotope variation in cultured planktic foraminifers

Vetter, Lael; Kozdon, Reinhard; Eggins, Stephen M.; Mora, Claudia I.; Valley, John W.; Hoenisch, Baerbel; Spero, Howard J.

In this study, we show that the rate of shell precipitation in the extant planktic foraminifer Orbulina universa is sufficiently rapid that 12 h calcification periods in 18O-labeled seawater can be resolved and accurately measured using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) for in situ δ18O analyses. Calcifying O. universa held at constant temperature (22 °C) were transferred every 12 h between ambient seawater (δ18Ow = −0.4‰ VSMOW) and seawater with enriched barium and δ18Ow = +18.6‰ VSMOW, to produce geochemically distinct layers of calcite, separated by calcite precipitated with an ambient geochemical signature. We quantify the position of the Ba-labeled calcite in the shell wall of O. universa via laser ablation ICP-MS depth profiling of trace element ratios, and then measure intrashell δ18Ocalcite in the same shells using SIMS with a 3 μm spot and an average precision of 0.6‰ (±2 SD). Measured δ18Ocalcite values in O. universa shell layers are within ±1.1‰ of predicted δ18Ocalcite values. Elemental and oxygen isotope data show that LA-ICP-MS and SIMS measurements can be cross-correlated within the spatial resolution of the two analytical techniques, and that δ18Ocalcite and elemental tracers appear to be precipitated synchronously with no measurable spatial offsets. These results demonstrate the capability of SIMS to resolve daily growth increments in foraminifer shells, and highlight its potential for paleoceanographic and biomineralization applications on microfossils.


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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
April 12, 2013