, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 177–188 | Cite as

Microstructure, growth banding and age determination of a primnoid gorgonian skeleton (Octocorallia) from the late Younger Dryas to earliest Holocene of the Bay of Biscay

  • Sibylle NoéEmail author
  • Lester Lembke-Jene
  • Julie Reveillaud
  • André Freiwald
Original Article


A fossil primnoid gorgonian skeleton (Octocorallia) was recovered on the eastern Galician Massif in the Bay of Biscay (NE Atlantic) from 720 m water depth. The skeleton shows a growth banding of alternating Mg–calcitic and organic (gorgonin) increments in the inner part, surrounded by a ring of massive fibrous calcite. Three calcite-dominated cycles, bounded by thick organic layers, consist of five light-dark couplets of calcite and gorgonin. Two AMS-14C datings of the fossil skeleton give ages of 10,880 and 10,820 ± 45 14C years before present (BP). We arrive at a calibrated age range of 11,829–10,072 cal. years BP (two σ), which comprises the late Younger Dryas to the earliest part of the Holocene. The cyclic calcitic–organic growth banding may be controlled by a constant rate of calcite secretion with a fluctuating rate of gorgonin production, possibly related to productivity cycles. The skeletal fabric change of alternating calcitic–organic increments to massive fibrous calcite may be the result of hydrographic changes during the deglaciation as reflected by preliminary stable isotope data. If this hypothesis proves to be correct, primnoid gorgonians are able to match with varying hydrodynamic conditions by changing their biomineralisation mode.


Primnoid gorgonian Microstructure Growth banding Radiocarbon dating Younger Dryas to Holocene Bay of Biscay 



R/V Belgica´ s “GALIPOR” cruise (2004) was a contribution to the EU “EURODOM” Research and Training Network (HPRN-CT-2002-00212) and the ESF EuroMargins “MoundForce” project (DU 129/43 + FR 1134/8). We are indebted to Prof. Dr. P.M. Grootes and his team (Leibniz Laboratory for Age Determination and Isotope Research at Kiel) for radiocarbon measurements and to D. Dettmar (Bochum) for thin-section preparation. J. Reveillaud acknowledges support of a EURODOM PhD grant and an IWT-Flanders PhD research fellowship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sibylle Noé
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Lester Lembke-Jene
    • 1
  • Julie Reveillaud
    • 2
  • André Freiwald
    • 3
  1. 1.Leibniz Institute of Marine SciencesIFM-GEOMARKielGermany
  2. 2.Renard Centre of Marine Geology and Marine Biology SectionGhent UniversityGentBelgium
  3. 3.Institute of PaleontologyUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany

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