Climate proxies from Sr/Ca of coccolith calcite: Calibrations from continuous culture of Emiliania huxleyi

Heather M. Stoll, Yair Rosenthal, Paul Falkowski

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Continuous culture of the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi reveals that coccolith Sr/Ca ratios depend on temperature and growth rate. At a constant temperature of 18°C, coccolith Sr/Ca ratios increased nearly 15% as growth rate increased from 0.1 to 1.5 divisions per day and calcification rate increased from 1.5 to 50 pg calcite per cell per day. When temperature increased from 7 to 26°C, Sr/Ca ratios increased by more than 25% (i.e., 1%/1°C), although the range in growth and calcification rates was the same as for experiments at constant temperature. The temperature dependence of Sr/Ca ratios in coccoliths is consistent with that observed in planktonic foraminifera and abiogenic calcites, suggesting that it is controlled by thermodynamic processes. However, the positive correlation of coccolith Sr/Ca with temperature contrasts with field studies in the equatorial Pacific, where Sr/Ca ratios are highest at the locus of maximum upwelling and productivity despite depressed temperatures. This paradox may reflect different calcification rate effects between E. huxleyi and the other species dominating assemblages in the equatorial Pacific sediments, which may be resolved by new techniques for separation of monospecific coccolith samples from sediments. Models of crystal growth indicate that kinetic effects on Sr partitioning in calcite due to surface enrichment could explain the Sr/Ca variations observed in constant temperature experiments but not the larger amplitude calcification rate effects observed in equatorial Pacific sediments. Despite the dual influence of temperature and growth rate on coccolith Sr/Ca, coccolith Sr/Ca correlates with "b," the slope of the dependence of carbon isotope fractionation in biomarkers (εp on CO2(aq) at a range of growth rates and temperatures. Consequently, using coccolith Sr/Ca in combination with alkenone εp may improve paleo-CO2 determinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-936
Number of pages10
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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