Isotopic composition of carbonate-bound organic nitrogen in deep-sea scleractinian corals: A new window into past biogeochemical change

Xingchen T. Wang, Maria G. Prokopenko, Daniel Mikhail Sigman, Jess F. Adkins, Laura F. Robinson, Haojia Ren, Sergey Oleynik, Branwen Williams, Gerald H. Haug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Over the last two decades, the skeletal remains of deep-sea corals have arisen as a geochemical archive of Pleistocene oceanographic change. Here we report the exploration of the isotopic composition of the carbonate-bound organic nitrogen (hereafter, CB-δ15N) in the deep-sea scleractinian coral Desmophyllum dianthus as a possible tool for reconstructing past changes in the ocean nitrogen cycle. The measurement protocol is adapted from a high-sensitivity method for foraminifera shell-bound δ15N. We explored the variability of CB-δ15N within specimens, among corals collected at different depths in a given ocean region, and among different ocean regions. Modern D. dianthus CB-δ15N is strongly correlated with the δ15N of N export as estimated from sediment traps, shallow subsurface nitrate, and surface sediments, suggesting that CB-δ15N is a reliable proxy for δ15N of N export. D. dianthus CB-δ15N is consistently 8-9‰ higher than δ15N of N export, indicating that D. dianthus acquires its nutrition primarily from suspended particulate organic matter (POM) that derives from sinking POM, not directly from sinking POM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-250
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume400
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • Deep-sea scleractinian corals
  • Nitrogen isotopes
  • Ocean nitrogen cycle
  • Paleoceanography

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