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A new boron isotope-pH calibration for Orbulina universa, with implications for understanding and accounting for ‘vital effects’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Michael J. Henehan, Gavin L. Foster, Helen C. Bostock, Rosanna Greenop, Brittney J. Marshall, Paul A. Wilson

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Boron isotope ratios, as measured in planktic foraminifera, can be a useful tracer of past ocean pH, and hence help to discern the concentration of CO2 in the ancient atmosphere. However, different species of planktic foraminifera demonstrate different patterns of boron isotope variation with ambient seawater pH. Therefore when applying the proxy to questions in the geological past, species-specific calibrations are preferable. Beyond the evolutionary history of a calibrated species, we must rely on our understanding of the causes of the observed “vital effects” in the modern ocean, and the applicability of that understanding to extinct species. Here we present a new open-ocean calibration of the planktic foraminifera Orbulina universa, measured via Multi-Collector Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (MC-ICPMS). Unlike other symbiont-bearing foraminifera, O. universa record a δ11B (and hence pH) that is lower than its surrounding seawater, but with a pH-sensitivity roughly equal to that of aqueous borate ion. We discuss the significance of this for application of the boron isotope proxy in deep time, with recommendations for best practice and future research directions.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-292
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume454
Early online date4 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2016

    Research areas

  • Boron isotopes, Palaeo-CO2, Planktic foraminifera, Vital effects, Orbulina universa

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