Articles | Volume 14, issue 1
Research article
09 Jan 2017
Research article |  | 09 Jan 2017

The effect of shell secretion rate on Mg / Ca and Sr / Ca ratios in biogenic calcite as observed in a belemnite rostrum

Clemens Vinzenz Ullmann and Philip A. E. Pogge von Strandmann

Abstract. Isotopic ratios and concentrations of the alkaline earth metals Mg and Sr in biogenic calcite are of great importance as proxies for environmental parameters. In particular, the Mg / Ca ratio as a temperature proxy has had considerable success. It is often hard to determine, however, which parameter ultimately controls the concentration of these elements in calcite.

Here, multiple Mg / Ca and Sr / Ca transects through a belemnite rostrum of Passaloteuthis bisulcata (Blainville, 1827) are used to isolate the effect of calcite secretion rate on incorporation of Mg and Sr into the calcite. With increasing calcite secretion rate Mg / Ca ratios decrease and Sr / Ca ratios in the rostrum increase. In the studied specimen this effect is found to be linear for both element ratios over a calcite secretion rate increase of ca. 150 %. Mg / Ca ratios and Sr / Ca ratios show a linear co-variation with increasing relative growth rate, where a 100 % increase in growth rate leads to a (8.1 ± 0.9) % depletion in Mg and a (5.9 ± 0.7) % enrichment in Sr. The magnitude of the calcite secretion rate effect on Mg is (37 ± 4) % greater than that on Sr. These findings are qualitatively confirmed by a geochemical transect through a second rostrum of Passaloteuthis sp.

Growth rate effects are well defined in rostra of Passaloteuthis, but only account for a minor part of chemical heterogeneity. Biasing effects on palaeoenvironmental studies can be minimized by informed sampling, whereby the apex and apical line of the rostrum are avoided.

Short summary
This study documents how much control growth rate has on the chemical composition of fossil shell material. Using a series of chemical analyses of the fossil hard part of a belemnite, an extinct marine predator, a clear connection between the rate of calcite formation and its magnesium and strontium contents was found. These findings provide further insight into biomineralization processes and help better understand chemical signatures of fossils as proxies for palaeoenvironmental conditions.
Final-revised paper