EGU21-2799, updated on 03 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A novel marine phosphorus record from Lower Jurassic belemnites?

Ailsa Roper1, Clemens Ullmann2,3, Crispin Little1, Simon Poulton1, Paul Wignall1, Tianchen He1, and Robert Newton1
Ailsa Roper et al.
  • 1Earth Surface Science Institute, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK (
  • 2Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter, Penryn, TR10 9FE, UK
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3AN, UK

Studying the long-term evolution of nutrient cycles and their interaction with other biogeochemical cycles is essential to understand Earth’s history. Marine nutrient cycling forms a key control on the cycling of carbon and oxygen in the bio- and geospheres. Here, we focus on phosphorus, which is the ultimate limiting nutrient on geological timescales and a potential driver of past intervals of marine anoxia/euxinia. Despite its importance, obtaining direct information on spatial and temporal variations in marine phosphorus concentrations has proved challenging. Recent work has demonstrated the potential for calcium carbonate-associated phosphorus in corals to record water-column phosphorus (e.g., LaVigne et al., 2008; 2010). Building on this approach, we are investigating the use of other calcitic fossils as a proxy for water column phosphorus concentration, focussing on belemnites, an extinct group of nektic molluscs.

We have developed and optimised a method to quantify phosphorus in the belemnite rostrum, and initially applied this method to samples from the upper Sinemurian to the Toarcian in the Lower Jurassic. During this time there were major climatic and environmental events in the latest Pliensbachian and early Toarcian, which are thought to have been driven by large scale volcanism of the Karoo-Ferrar Large Igneous Provinces (LIP). Of particular interest are an icehouse event during the Pliensbachian, and a warming event during the Toarcian which coincided with widespread ocean anoxia (the Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event [TOAE]) and a second order mass extinction event (the Early Toarcian Mass Extinction).

We will present P/Ca results from method development tests and collections of belemnites from the Sinemurian to the Toarcian from a number of sites in the European Epicontinental Sea (EES). Pilot data show similar trends in belemnite phosphorus concentrations at different sites in the EES, including a sharp peak during the TOAE. We will also discuss the impact of inter-species variation on belemnite phosphorus concentrations, as well as internal variability in phosphorus concentrations in individual belemnites, to determine the potential impact of these variables on the reconstruction of water column phosphorus concentrations. 

LaVigne, M., Field, M. P., Anagnostou, E., Grottoli, A. G., Wellington, G. M., Sherrell, R. M. (2008). Skeletal P/Ca tracks upwelling in Gulf of Panamá coral: Evidence for a new seawater phosphate proxy. Geophysical Research Letters 35.

LaVigne, M., Matthews, K. A., Grottoli, A. G., Cobb, K. M., Anagnostou, E., Cabioch, G., Sherrell, R. M. (2010). Coral skeleton P/Ca proxy for seawater phosphate: Multi-colony calibration with a contemporaneous seawater phosphate record. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74: 1282–1293.

How to cite: Roper, A., Ullmann, C., Little, C., Poulton, S., Wignall, P., He, T., and Newton, R.: A novel marine phosphorus record from Lower Jurassic belemnites?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2799,, 2021.


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