EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Isotopic and elemental mapping of bamboo corals – reference to calcification mechanism and proxy applications

Sebastian Flöter1, Jan Fietzke2, Marcus Gutjahr2, Jesse Farmer3, Bärbel Hönisch4, Gernot Nehrke5, and Anton Eisenhauer2
Sebastian Flöter et al.
  • 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel - HOSST Research School, Germany (
  • 2GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany
  • 3Department of Geoscience, Princeton University, Princeton, USA
  • 4Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, USA
  • 5Alfred Wegener Institut, Bremerhaven, Germany

Bamboo corals are calcitic octocorals dwelling in a broad range of water depths and in all ocean basins. Their skeletons could give insight into the temporal variability of environmental parameters at their growth locations, in areas where long-time observations are often lacking. A thorough understanding of calcification mechanisms is essential to interpret the chemical composition of their high-magnesium calcite skeleton regarding environmental fluctuations of the deeper ocean. To address this issue, we employed electron microprobe analysis, confocal Raman spectroscopy, laser ablation-ICPMS and solution based multi collector-ICPMS that together provide insights into the fine-scale spatial heterogeneity of the coral chemical composition. We investigate the spatial distribution of Na, S, and Ca, as well as organic matter in skeletal sections of specimens of Keratoisis grayi (family Isididae) from the Atlantic Ocean. Two bamboo coral samples from the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean were further used to create laser ablation-based maps of δ11B and boron to carbon ratios (B/C) over the sample radii. These maps are compared with results obtained via solution based δ11B analyses on drilled samples.

An inverse correlation between Na and S is observed while S seems to be positively correlated with organic matter. We will discuss the ability of a qualitative physicochemical model to explain the observed Na and S distribution and the potential role of organic matter and amorphous calcium carbonate. Our results indicate that skeletal Na/Ca in bamboo corals is largely driven by physiological processes rather than environmental salinity variability. The spatial distribution of δ11B shows a positive correlation with B/C. The observed range of bulk δ11B - partly falling below the theoretical borate fractionation curve in seawater - is larger than the conventional measured δ11B of the calcite fraction alone. The latter cannot be explained with a spatial smoothing of the distribution during sample drilling but is rather associated with a loss of an isotopically highly variable B fraction during sample bleaching. Potential reasons for the observed differences in B isotopic range and their implications will be presented. We conclude that skeletal δ11B as a proxy for pHSW is dependent on the applied technique and investigated material fraction.

How to cite: Flöter, S., Fietzke, J., Gutjahr, M., Farmer, J., Hönisch, B., Nehrke, G., and Eisenhauer, A.: Isotopic and elemental mapping of bamboo corals – reference to calcification mechanism and proxy applications , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10590,, 2020