Profiling planktonic foraminiferal crust formation

J. Steinhardt, L.L.J. de Nooijer, G. Brummer, G. Reichart

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Planktonic foraminifera migrate vertically through the water column during their life, thereby growing and calcifying over a range of depth-associated conditions. Some species form a calcite veneer, crust, or cortex at the end of their lifecycle. This additional calcite layer may vary in structure, composition, and thickness, potentially accounting for most of their total shell mass and thereby dominating the element and isotope signature of the whole shell. Here we apply laser ablation ICP-MS depth profiling to assess variability in thickness and Mg/Ca composition of shell walls of three encrusting species derived from sediment traps. Compositionally, Mg/Ca is significantly lower in the crusts of Neogloboquadrina dutertrei and Globorotalia scitula, as well as in the cortex of Pulleniatina obliquiloculata, independent of the species-specific Mg/Ca of their lamellar calcite shell. Wall thickness accounts for nearly half of the total thickness in both crustal species and nearly a third in cortical P. obliquiloculata, regardless of their initial shell wall thickness. Crust thickness and crustal Mg/Ca decreases toward the younger chambers in N. dutertrei and to a lesser extent, also in G. scitula. In contrast, the cortex of P. obliquiloculata shows a nearly constant thickness and uniform Mg/Ca through the complete chamber wall. Patterns in thickness and Mg/Ca of the crust indicate that temperature is not the dominant factor controlling crust formation. Instead, we present a depth-resolved model explaining compositional differences within individuals and between successive chambers as well as compositional heterogeneity of the crust and lamellar calcite in all three species studied here.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2409-2430
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

PT: J; NR: 100; TC: 0; J9: GEOCHEM GEOPHY GEOSY; PG: 22; GA: CP9WX; UT: WOS:000360247200021


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