Coral Reefs

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 65–69 | Cite as

Correlation of stable oxygen isotope temperature record with light attenuation profiles in reef-dwellingTridacna shells

  • J. Pätzold
  • J. P. Heinrichs
  • K. Wolschendorf
  • G. Wefer


Molluscs are known to record environmental changes in their carbonate shells in detail. This paper reports the findings of a high-resolution analysis of stable oxygen isotopic compositions and light transmission properties of a shell of the reef-dwelling Pacific giant clamTridacna gigas. Our findings reveal that the annual growth rates and the longevity ofTridacna specimens can be readily determined by measuring the annual light attenuation pattern within the shell. Annual seasonal changes in water temperature are reflected with high resolution in the stable oxygen isotope ratios and in the light attenuation values of the aragonite shell. The inner shell ofT. gigas deposited below the pallial line revealing undisturbed shell accretion with high growth rates shows the maximum seasonal oxygen isotope range and the highest resolution in light attenuation changes. We suggest that this is the best part of the shell to reconstruct former seasonal surface water temperatures in tropical environments. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies suggest that the annual growth patterns observed in transmitted light are generated by a complex pattern of daily growth increments with varying sizes of skeletal crystallites and varying amounts of organic carbon.


Oxygen Isotope Light Attenuation Oxygen Isotopic Composition Oxygen Isotope Ratio Isotope Temperature 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Pätzold
    • 1
  • J. P. Heinrichs
    • 2
  • K. Wolschendorf
    • 2
  • G. Wefer
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich 5-Geowissenschaften der UniversitätBremen 33Germany
  2. 2.Institu für Angewandte Physik der UniversitätKielFedefal Republic of Germany

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