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Assessing the reproducibility and reliability of estuarine bivalve shells (Saxidomus giganteus) for sea surface temperature reconstruction: implications for paleoclimate studies
Gillikin, D.P.; De Ridder, F.; Ulens, H.; Elskens, M.; Keppens, E.; Baeyens, W.F.J.; Dehairs, F.A. (2005). Assessing the reproducibility and reliability of estuarine bivalve shells (Saxidomus giganteus) for sea surface temperature reconstruction: implications for paleoclimate studies. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 228(1-2): 70-85.
In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Elsevier: Amsterdam; Tokyo; Oxford; New York. ISSN 0031-0182; e-ISSN 1872-616X, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 299460 [ OMA ]


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  • Validation of alternative marine calcareous skeletons as recorders of global climate change, more

Authors  Top 
  • Gillikin, D.P., more
  • De Ridder, F., more
  • Ulens, H.
  • Elskens, M., more
  • Keppens, E., more
  • Baeyens, W.F.J., more
  • Dehairs, F.A., more

    Studies using oxygen isotopes (δ18O) of mollusk shells to determine paleotemperature need to assume water δ18O values, which could severely influence calculated temperatures. We analyzed aragonitic shells of the Butter Clam, Saxidomus giganteus (DeShayes, 1839), to determine the reproducibility of the isotopic signal between individuals and to assess how precisely temperature could be calculated given known salinity and temperature. Furthermore, carbon isotopes are also investigated as an environmental proxy. The abundance of well-preserved S. giganteus shells in archeological and geological deposits in northwestern North America makes them a particularly suitable species for paleoclimate studies. Seasonally resolved stable oxygen isotope profiles in three S. giganteus shells collected from the same site in Puget Sound (Washington, USA) were well correlated (0.77 < R2 < 0.87). Although there were differences up to 0.58‰ in high resolution δ18O profiles of the three shells, the difference between the average δ18O of each shell was less than half of this (0.19‰) and half of what has been reported for between-colony coral variability. δ13C profiles on the other hand were more complex, with shell δ13C being about 2.5‰ lower than expected equilibrium values. However, this roughly conforms to the idea that about 10% of the shell carbon originates from metabolic CO2. Both δ18O and δ13C indicate that S. giganteus do not grow during periods of reduced salinity. Despite the excellent reproducibility of δ18O between shells, and the fact that salinity effects were duly considered, calculated temperature still differed from instrumental temperature. Applying different salinity-δ18O water relationships to average shell δ18O, and considering salinity from the shell collection site and a nearby offshore station resulted in calculated average water temperatures ranging from 1.7 to 6.4 °C warmer than measured. Although we could not determine if S. giganteus precipitate their shells in isotopic equilibrium, we believe that the difficulty in predicting temperature arose from not being able to accurately determine δ18O of the water at the time of shell precipitation. These data highlight the difficulties inherent to using stable isotope profiles of estuarine biogenic carbonates as environmental proxies.

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