Spicule morphology impacts stable silicon isotopic composition of sponge archives

The stable silicon isotopic composition of siliceous sponge skeletal elements, spicules, forms a potential proxy for past dissolved silicon (DSi) concentrations of bottom waters. Field-based studies have shown that there is a non-linear relationship between the concentration of ambient DSi and both the isotopic composition (denoted by δ30Si) of spicules and apparent isotopic fractionation by sponges during growth. There is considerable scatter in the calibration, with some studies highlighting variation within an individual sponge, and between individuals, in both monospecific and more diverse communities. Furthermore, some derived sponge forms, including hypersilicified and carnivorous sponges, appear to have anomalous isotopic fractionation, deviating significantly from other sponges. When reconstructing past DSi, it is only possible to differentiate spicules by their morphology, which in many cases will not be taxonomically diagnostic. However, there has yet to be a systematic study of core top and downcore δ30Si measurements from different spicule types. Here we address that gap using spicules extracted from two sediment cores taken at the summit of the Schulz Bank, a seamount located on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge between the Norwegian and Greenland Seas. Mean isotopic compositions of downcore spicules of a given morphology were similar between nearby cores and mainly did not show any significant differences. Our results did reveal a systematic difference between spicule types extracted from a given sediment horizon, and a significant difference in the downcore mean compositions, between needle-like Oxea and other morphologies. These new findings imply that picking a single spicule type is best practice for palaeoceanographic applications of sponge archives, but the choice of Oxea spicules could bias these reconstructions towards high DSi concentrations.


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Authors: Hendry, Katharine R. ORCIDORCID record for Katharine R. Hendry, Pryer, Helena, Bates, Stephanie L., Mienis, Furu, Xavier, Joana R.

On this site: Kate Hendry
11 June, 2024
Geochemical Perspective Letters / 30
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