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Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

The Giant Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) as a modern analog for fossil ostreoids: Isotopic (Ca, O, C) and elemental (Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca, Mn/Ca) proxies

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Abstract

[1] Modern analogs are an essential part of palaeoclimate studies, because they provide the basis for the understanding of geochemical signatures of fossils. Ostreoids are common in many sedimentary sequences and because of their fast growth, high temporal resolution sampling of past seasonal variability is possible. Here, two shell structures of modern Giant Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas), the chalky substance and foliate layers, have been sampled for trace element distributions (Mg, Sr, Mn) and stable isotope variability (C, O, Ca). Oxygen isotopes exhibit a clear seasonal signature. Mean carbon isotope values of different oysters agree within 0.1‰, but ontogenic variability is complicated by shell growth patterns and potential small vital effects. The calcium isotope ratios are found to be constant throughout ontogeny within analytical precision at a value of δ44/40Ca = 0.68 ± 0.16‰ (2 sd) SRM–915a which is consistent with other bivalve species. Calcium isotope ratios in oyster shell material might thus be a possible proxy for palaeo seawater calcium isotope ratios. Element/Ca ratios are significantly higher in the chalky substance than in the foliate layers and especially high Sr/Ca and Mn/Ca ratios are observed for the first growth season of the oysters. Mg/Ca ratios in the chalky substance show a negative correlation with δ18O values, compatible with a temperature dependence, whereas this correlation is absent in the foliate layers. Seasonal changes of Sr/Ca are controlled by metabolic processes, whereas for Mn/Ca an additional environmental control is evident.

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