Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 28, Issue 5–6, pp 309–325

Shell growth and oxygen isotopes in the topshell Osilinus turbinatus: resolving past inshore sea surface temperatures

  • Marcello A. Mannino
  • Kenneth D. Thomas
  • Melanie J. Leng
  • Hilary J. Sloane
Original

Abstract

Shells of the rocky shore intertidal gastropod Osilinus turbinatus (von Born), often abundant in archaeological deposits in the Mediterranean region, are a potential source of data on palaeotemperature, palaeoseasonality and archaeological seasonality. To evaluate this species as a climate archive, investigations of annual patterns of shell growth and of monthly variations in oxygen isotopes in shell carbonates were made on different populations in NW Sicily. Mark-recapture experiments at San Vito lo Capo and Mazzaforno show that O. turbinatus grows almost continuously throughout the year but at different rates in different seasons. Around 75% of the yearly shell growth occurs in the autumn and winter. On average, larger/older shells produce narrower annual growth increments than smaller/younger ones. Conspicuous growth lines in larger/older shells show that growth stops during the hottest part of the summer. Oxygen isotope analyses on monthly collected shells of O. turbinatus from three shores (Cala Grande, Monte Cofano and Mazzaforno) show that the isotope values record temperature variations through the year. In all the datasets, surface seawater temperatures (SSTs) calculated from δ18OSHELL mostly underestimate measured SSTs, offsets being generally greater in summer. Minimum annual offsets range from 0.0°C to 0.7°C and maximum annual offsets from 3.1°C to 8.7°C. δ18OSHELL values fail to record temperatures higher than 25°C. Careful selection of shells to be analysed can reduce offsets between δ18OSHELL temperature estimates and measured SSTs for many parts of the year, except the hottest. Allowing for this, shells of O. turbinatus offer good potential as climate archives and for archaeological studies of seasonal patterns of human foraging for shellfish.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcello A. Mannino
    • 1
  • Kenneth D. Thomas
    • 1
  • Melanie J. Leng
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hilary J. Sloane
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.NERC Isotope Geosciences LaboratoryBritish Geological SurveyKeyworthUK
  3. 3.School of GeographyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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