Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
Biogeosciences, 10, 6375–6387, 2013
Biogeosciences, 10, 6375–6387, 2013

Research article 09 Oct 2013

Research article | 09 Oct 2013

A novel salinity proxy based on Na incorporation into foraminiferal calcite

J. C. Wit1,2, L. J. de Nooijer3, M. Wolthers1,4, and G. J. Reichart1,3 J. C. Wit et al.
  • 1Department of Geochemistry, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 4, 3584 CD, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 266 Woods Hole Road, Woods Hole, 02543, Massachusetts, USA
  • 3Department of Marine Geology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Lansdiep 4, 1797 SZ, t' Horntje Texel, the Netherlands
  • 4Department of Chemistry, University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1 H0AJ, UK

Abstract. Salinity and temperature determine seawater density, and differences in both thereby control global thermohaline circulation. Whereas numerous proxies have been calibrated and applied to reconstruct temperature, a direct and independent proxy for salinity is still missing. Ideally, a new proxy for salinity should target one of the direct constituents of dissolved salt, such as [Na+] or [Cl]. This study investigates the impact of salinity on foraminiferal Na/Ca values by laser ablation ICP-MS analyses of specimens of the benthic foraminifer Ammonia tepida cultured at a range of salinities (30.0–38.6). Foraminifera at lower salinities (30.0 and 32.5) added more chambers (10–11) to their test over the course of the culturing experiment than those maintained at higher salinities (36.1, 7–8 chambers, and 38.6, 6–7 chambers), suggesting that growth rates in this species are promoted by lower salinities. The Na/Ca of cultured specimens correlates significantly with seawater salinity (Na/Ca = 0.22S–0.75, R2 = 0.96, p < 0.01) and size. Values for Na/Ca and DNa vary between 5.17 and 9.29 mmol mol−1 and 0.12–0.16 × 10−3, which are similar to values from inorganic precipitation experiments. The significant correlation between test size and Na/Ca results from co-variation with salinity. This implies that foraminiferal Na/Ca could serve as a robust and independent proxy for salinity, enabling salinity reconstructions independent of calcitic δ18O.

Final-revised paper