Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology paper makes an impact.

22/07/2021 - 16:30

Niels de Winter is an FWO postdoctoral researcher at the VUB and a EU Marie-Curie fellow at Utrecht University - Read the paper here

The work reports subdaily resolved chemical records through fossil mollusk shell calcite. Trace element profiles resolve periodic variability across ~40-μm-thin daily growth laminae in a Cretaceous Torreites sanchezi rudist bivalve. These high-resolution records are combined with seasonally resolved stable isotope and trace element records that allow shell-chemical variability to be discussed on both seasonal and daily scale. A combination of layer counting, spectral analysis of chemical cyclicity and chemical layer counting shows that the rudist precipitated 372 daily laminae per year, demonstrating that length of day has increased since the Late Cretaceous, as predicted by astronomical models. This new approach to determine the length of a solar day in geologic history through multiproxy chemical records at subdaily resolution yields considerably more control on the uncertainty of this estimate. Daily chemical variability exceeds seasonal variability in our records, and cannot be explained by diurnal temperature changes. Instead, we postulate that rudist shell chemistry is driven on a daily scale by changes in light intensity. These results together with those of stable isotope analyses provide strong evidence that Torreites rudists had photosymbionts. Bivalve shell calcite generally preserves well. Therefore, this study paves the way for daily-scale reconstructions of paleoenvironment and sunlight intensity on geologic time scales from bivalve shells, potentially allowing researchers to bridge the gap between climate and weather reconstructions. Such reconstructions improve shell chronologies, document environmental change in warm ecosystems, and widen our understanding of the magnitude of short-term changes during greenhouse climates.

Trace element and stable isotope analyses across the rudist shell at high resolution