Articles | Volume 7, issue 3
04 Mar 2010
 | 04 Mar 2010

Incorporation of Mg and Sr in calcite of cultured benthic foraminifera: impact of calcium concentration and associated calcite saturation state

M. Raitzsch, A. Dueñas-Bohórquez, G.-J. Reichart, L. J. de Nooijer, and T. Bickert

Abstract. We investigated the effect of the calcium concentration in seawater and thereby the calcite saturation state (Ω) on the magnesium and strontium incorporation into benthic foraminiferal calcite under laboratory conditions. For this purpose individuals of the shallow-water species Heterostegina depressa (precipitating high-Mg calcite, symbiont-bearing) and Ammonia tepida (low-Mg calcite, symbiont-barren) were cultured in media under a range of [Ca2+], but similar Mg/Ca ratios. Trace element/Ca ratios of newly formed calcite were analysed with Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and normalized to the seawater elemental composition using the equation DTE=(TE/Cacalcite)/(TE/Caseawater). The culturing study shows that DMg of A. tepida significantly decreases with increasing Ω at a gradient of −4.3×10−5 per Ω unit. The DSr value of A. tepida does not change with Ω, suggesting that fossil Sr/Ca in this species may be a potential tool to reconstruct past variations in seawater Sr/Ca. Conversely, DMg of H. depressa shows only a minor decrease with increasing Ω, while DSr increases considerably with Ω at a gradient of 0.009 per Ω unit. The different responses to seawater chemistry of the two species may be explained by a difference in the calcification pathway that is, at the same time, responsible for the variation in the total Mg incorporation between the two species. Since the Mg/Ca ratio in H. depressa is 50–100 times higher than that of A. tepida, it is suggested that the latter exhibits a mechanism that decreases the Mg/Ca ratio of the calcification fluid, while the high-Mg calcite forming species may not have this physiological tool. If the dependency of Mg incorporation on seawater [Ca2+] is also valid for deep-sea benthic foraminifera typically used for paleostudies, the higher Ca concentrations in the past may potentially bias temperature reconstructions to a considerable degree. For instance, 25 Myr ago Mg/Ca ratios in A. tepida would have been 0.2 mmol/mol lower than today, due to the 1.5 times higher [Ca2+] of seawater, which in turn would lead to a temperature underestimation of more than 2 °C.

Final-revised paper