Geochemical analyses of the carbonate tests calcified by foraminifera have provided much of the foundation for reconstructions of past ocean and climate conditions, and for chemostratigraphy. In particular, reconstructions of climate history (including temperature, salinity, and ice volume), ocean paleocirculation patterns, the carbon cycle, paleoproductivity, marine carbonate chemistry, and chemostratigraphy have relied on measurements of isotopic and trace element composition of foraminiferal calcium carbonate, and variations in these geochemical records through time and space. Substantial work has been done on details of traditional proxies (e.g., δ18O, δ13C) and on emerging proxies (e.g., δ11B, εNd) in recent years; hence, a new overview of these proxies provides a timely reference and educational tool. We review the geochemical proxies that utilize foraminiferal carbonate tests, including potential uses of the proxies for reconstructions through time: δ18O, δ13C, trace elements (Mg, Cd, Ba, Zn, B, U), 87Sr/86Sr, δ26,Mg, δ11B, and εNd. Both planktic and benthic foraminifera are included; planktic foraminifera provide information on the upper few hundred meters of the surface ocean, whereas benthic foraminifera provide information on conditions at the seafloor and in shallow porewaters, from shallow seas to deep ocean basins.
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