High-resolution trace and minor element compositions in deep-water scleractinian corals (Desmophyllum dianthus) from the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Australian Bight

Part of the Erlangen Earth Conference Series book series (ERLANGEN)


Zooxanthellate scleractinian corals have been shown to preserve important archives of seasonal variations of climate variables, such as sea surface temperature, salinity, and productivity. By analogy, the recognition of correlated chemical signals in azooxanthellate deep-water corals may provide an important new approach to help unravel the role of intermediate and deep waters in determining climate variability. A first step to determine the suitability of deep-water scleractinian corals as potential paleoceanographic-paleoclimatic tools requires the demonstration of coherent geochemical signals in their skeletons. With this in mind, trace and minor element ratios Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, U/Ca, B/Ca, P/Ca, Ba/Ca and Mn/Ca have been measured in two deep-water solitary scleractinian corals (Desmophyllum dianthus) collected from Last Glacial submerged banks in the Mediterranean basin and in the Great Australian Bight. Most elements show distinct, highly correlated patterns of variation. Although preliminary, these results illustrate the potential use of trace and minor element concentrations in the deep-water scleractinian corals to provide new constraints on the composition and evolution of intermediate and deep waters and thus introduce new perspectives in paleoceanography, such as the assessment of changes in both deep-sea nutrient chemistry and ocean circulation.


Desmophyllum dianthus deep-water corals trace element systematics laser ablation Mediterranean Sea Great Australian Bight paleoproductivity 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mineralogy and PetrologyUniversity of PaduaItaly
  2. 2.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.ISMAR-Marine Geology DivisionCNRBolognaItaly
  4. 4.South Australian MuseumAdelaideAustralia

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