Marine Science Faculty Publications

High-resolution Sr/Ca Records in Sclerosponges Calibrated to Temperature in Situ

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Ratios of strontium to calcium have been analyzed by laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) in a skeletal section of the sclerosponge Ceratoporella nicholsoni. The growth period, representative of 3 yr, was stained in the skeleton with a fluorochrome (calcein). Temperatures were recorded at 2 h intervals within the shallow, cryptic reef enclosure that the sclerosponge inhabited on the northern coast of Jamaica, allowing the formulation of a direct empirical relationship between Sr/Ca and temperature. To verify this calibration, Sr/Ca ratios of two sclerosponges of the same species from depths of 67 m and 136 m in Exuma Sound, Bahamas, were analyzed by LA-ICP-MS and compared to the temperatures from these depths over a decade prior to collection. The result is an independently verified, high-resolution empirical calibration for the temperature sensitivity of Sr/Ca ratios in the aragonite skeletons of sclerosponges from Jamaica and the Bahamas. The calibration is a first for C. nicholsoni and indicates that sclerosponges are more sensitive temperature recorders than zooxanthellate corals. It represents an important step in establishing skeletal geochemistry of sclerosponges as a proxy of temperature in the upper 250 m of the ocean.

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Geology, v. 32, issue 2, p. 145-148