Timing and mechanism for intratest Mg/Ca variability in a living planktic foraminifer

H.J. Spero, S.M. Eggins, A.D. Russell, L. Vetter, Matt Kilburn, B. Hönisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 Elsevier B.V. Geochemical observations indicate that planktic foraminifer test Mg/Ca is heterogeneous in many species, thereby challenging its use as a paleotemperature proxy for paleoceanographic reconstructions. We present Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca data collected by laser ablation ICP-MS from the shells of Orbulina universa cultured in controlled laboratory experiments. Test calcite was labeled with Ba-spiked seawater for 12 h day or night calcification periods to quantify the timing of intratest Mg-banding across multiple diurnal cycles. Results demonstrate that high Mg bands are precipitated during the night whereas low Mg bands are precipitated during the day. Data obtained from specimens growing at 20 °C and 25 °C show that Mg/Ca ratios in both high and low Mg bands increase with temperature, and average test Mg/Ca ratios are in excellent agreement with previously published empirical calibrations based on bulk solution ICP-MS analyses. In general, Mg band concentrations decrease with increasing pH and/or [CO2- 3] but this effect decreases as experimental temperatures increase from 20 °C to 25 °C. We suggest that mitochondrial uptake of Mg2+ from the thin calcifying fluid beneath streaming rhizopodial filaments may provide the primary locus for Mg2+ removal during test calcification, and that diurnal variations in either mitochondrial density or activity produce Mg banding. These results demonstrate that Mg banding is an inherent component of test biomineralization in O. universa and show that the Mg/Ca paleothermometer remains a fundamental tool for reconstructing past ocean temperatures from fossil foraminifers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Timing and mechanism for intratest Mg/Ca variability in a living planktic foraminifer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this