Recovery of temperature records from slow-growing corals by fine scale sampling of skeletons

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Abstract

[1] We used laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA ICP-MS) to analyze Sr/Ca ratios in 5 colonies of the Atlantic corals, Diploria labyrinthiformis and Montastrea franski, each growing less than 5 mm yr−1. By targeting the centers of septa we avoided thickening deposits to achieve an analytical sampling resolution of 5-10 days. The sensitivity of Sr/Ca to temperature (−0.096 mmol/mol/°C) is ∼3 times higher than previously reported for these species and equivalent to that exhibited by fast-growing Porites corals from the Indo-Pacific. The Sr/Ca-sea surface temperature (SST) calibrations derived from these corals were not statistically different and were independent of colony growth rate over the period studied. Data from 4 D. labyrinthiformis colonies were pooled to produce a single Sr/Ca-SST calibration with a calculated standard error on the predicted ocean temperature of ±0.51°C. Applying our calibration to Sr/Ca analyses of D. labyrinthiformis skeleton deposited in the late 18th century indicated that average annual sea surface temperatures around Bermuda were ∼1°C cooler than today.

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