Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Biogeosciences, 6, 197–207, 2009
Biogeosciences, 6, 197–207, 2009

  16 Feb 2009

16 Feb 2009

Diagenetic changes in Concholepas concholepas shells (Gastropoda, Muricidae) in the hyper-arid conditions of Northern Chile – implications for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions

N. Guzmán1, Y. Dauphin2, J. P. Cuif2, A. Denis2, and L. Ortlieb1 N. Guzmán et al.
  • 1UR 055 Paleotropique, IRD, 32 av. H. Varagnat, 93143 Bondy cedex, France
  • 2UMR IDES 8148, bât. 504, Université Paris XI-Orsay, 91405 Orsay cedex, France

Abstract. Variations in the chemical composition of fossil biogenic carbonates, and in particular of mollusc shells, have been used in a range of palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. It is of primary importance, therefore, to detect and understand the diagenetic processes that may modify the original chemical signature. This microstructural and biogeochemical study focuses on modern and fossil (Holocene and Pleistocene) shells of a littoral gastropod of Northern Chile, and on the characterization of mineral component transformations at the nanometric scale and concomitant intracrystalline organic compound modifications. The inner aragonite layer of the shell exhibits more complex deteriorations than the calcite layer. This preliminary study confirms that physical and chemical alterations of various components of mollusc shell biocrystals are complex and might manifest in different ways even within a single individual. The single criterion of determining the mineralogical composition to verify the conservation state of shell samples is insufficient.

Final-revised paper