Incorporation and preservation of Mg in Globigerinoides sacculifer: implications for reconstructing the temperature and 18O/16O of seawater


  • Y. Rosenthal,

  • G. P. Lohmann,

  • K. C Lohmann,

  • R. M. Sherrell


Using bathymetric transects of surface sediments underlying similar sea surface temperatures but exposed to increasing dissolution, we examined the processes which affect the relationship between foraminiferal Mg/Ca and δ18O. We found that Globigerinoides saccculifer calcifies over a relatively large range of water depth and that this is apparent in their Mg content. On the seafloor, foraminiferal Mg/Ca is substantially altered by dissolution with the degree of alteration increasing with water depth. Selective dissolution of the chamber calcite, formed in surface waters, shifts the shell's bulk Mg/Ca and δ18O toward the chemistries of the secondary crust acquired in colder thermocline waters. The magnitude of this shift depends on both the range of temperatures over which the shell calcified and the degree to which it is subsequently dissolved. In spite of this shift the initial relationship between Mg/Ca and δ18O, determined by their temperature dependence, is maintained. We conclude that paired measurements of δ18O and Mg/Ca can be used for reconstructing δ18Owater, though care must be taken to determine where in the water column the reconstruction applies.