Articles | Volume 6, issue 11
13 Nov 2009
 | 13 Nov 2009

Interpretation of benthic foraminiferal stable isotopes in subtidal estuarine environments

P. Diz, F. J. Jorissen, G. J. Reichart, C. Poulain, F. Dehairs, E. Leorri, and Y.-M. Paulet

Abstract. Here we present a novel approach for the interpretation of stable isotope signatures recorded in benthic foraminifera from subtidal estuarine environments. The stable isotopic composition (δ18O and δ13C) of living Ammonia tepida and Haynesina germanica is examined at four stations in the Auray River estuary (Gulf of Morbihan, France) sampled in two contrasting seasons, spring 2006 and winter 2007. Comparing benthic foraminiferal δ18O measurements with theoretical oxygen isotopic equilibrium values, calculated on the basis of water temperature and salinity measurements in the upper and lower estuary, i.e., T-S-δ18Oeq. diagrams, strongly suggests that foraminiferal faunas sampled at the four stations calcified during different periods of the year. This interpretation can be refined by using the benthic foraminiferal δ13C, which is mainly determined by the mixing of sea and river water. In the upper estuary foraminifera mainly calcified in early spring and winter, whereas in the lower estuary calcification mainly took place in spring, summer and autumn. This new method provides insight into the complexity of estuarine benthic foraminiferal stable isotope records. In addition, it can also be used to obtain new information on preferred calcification periods of benthic foraminiferal taxa in different parts of the estuary.

Final-revised paper