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The geochemistry of deep-sea coral skeletons: Are view of vital effects and applications for palaeoceanography

Robinson, Laura F. and Adkins, Jess F. and Frank, Norbert and Gagnon, Alexander C. and Prouty, Nancy G. and Roark, E. Brendan and van de Flierdt, Tina (2014) The geochemistry of deep-sea coral skeletons: Are view of vital effects and applications for palaeoceanography. Deep-Sea Research. Part II, Topical Studies in Oceanography, 99 . pp. 184-198. ISSN 0967-0645.

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Deep-sea corals were discovered over a century ago, but it is only over recent years that focused efforts have been made to explore the history of the oceans using the geochemistry of their skeletal remains. They offer a promising archive of past oceanic environments given their global distribution, layered growth patterns, longevity and preservation as well as our ability to date them using radiometric techniques. This paper provides an overview of the current state-of-the-art in terms of geochemical approaches to using deep-sea coral skeletons to explore the history of the ocean. Deep-sea coral skeletons have a wide array of morphologies (e.g. solitary cup corals, branching colonial corals) and materials (calcite, aragonite and proteins). As such their biomineralization strategies are diverse, leading to complex geochemistry within coral skeletons. Notwithstanding these complications, progress has been made on developing methods for reconstructing the oceanographic environment in the past using trace elements and isotopic methods. Promising approaches within certain coral groups include clumped isotopes and Mg/Li for temperature reconstructions, boron isotopes and radiocarbon for carbon cycling, εNd, and radiocarbon for circulation studies and δ^(15)N, P/Ca and Ba/Ca for nutrient tracer studies. Likewise there is now a range of techniques for dating deep-sea corals skeletons (e.g. U-series, radiocarbon), and determining their growth rates (e.g. radiocarbon and ^(210)Pb). Dating studies on historic coral populations in the Atlantic, Southern Ocean and Pacific point to climate and environmental changes being dominant controls on coral populations over millennial and orbital timescales. This paper provides a review of a range of successes and promising approaches. It also highlights areas in which further research would likely provide new insights into biomineralization, palaeoceanography and distribution of past coral populations.

Item Type:Article
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Adkins, Jess F.0000-0002-3174-5190
Additional Information:© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Available online 19 June 2013. Biology and Geology of Deep-Sea Coral Ecosystems: Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium on Deep Sea Corals. This research was funded by the European Research Council (EC FP7 ERC StG 20101014), the Marie Curie Reintegration Program, and by the Phillip Leverhulme Trust (both to LFR and additionally to TvdF, Grant RPG-398). We acknowledge the constructive input from reviewers and editors who helped to improve this manuscript.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research CouncilEC FP7 ERC StG 20101014
Marie Curie Reintegration ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Phillip Leverhulme TrustRPG-398
Subject Keywords:Deep-sea coral; Geochemistry; Paleoceanography; Proxy
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140407-151402708
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Official Citation:Laura F. Robinson, Jess F. Adkins, Norbert Frank, Alexander C. Gagnon, Nancy G. Prouty, E. Brendan Roark, Tina van de Flierdt, The geochemistry of deep-sea coral skeletons: A review of vital effects and applications for palaeoceanography, Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, Volume 99, January 2014, Pages 184-198, ISSN 0967-0645, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44718
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:07 Apr 2014 22:52
Last Modified:24 Feb 2020 10:30

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