Gagnon Alexander C.

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Alexander C.

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  • Article
    Strong depth-related zonation of megabenthos on a rocky continental margin (∼700–4000 m) off southern Tasmania, Australia
    (Public Library of Science, 2014-01-22) Thresher, Ronald E. ; Althaus, Franziska ; Adkins, Jess F. ; Gowlett-Holmes, Karen ; Alderslade, Phil ; Dowdney, Jo ; Cho, Walter W. ; Gagnon, Alexander C. ; Staples, David ; McEnnulty, Felicity ; Williams, Alan
    Assemblages of megabenthos are structured in seven depth-related zones between ~700 and 4000 m on the rocky and topographically complex continental margin south of Tasmania, southeastern Australia. These patterns emerge from analysis of imagery and specimen collections taken from a suite of surveys using photographic and in situ sampling by epibenthic sleds, towed video cameras, an autonomous underwater vehicle and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Seamount peaks in shallow zones had relatively low biomass and low diversity assemblages, which may be in part natural and in part due to effects of bottom trawl fishing. Species richness was highest at intermediate depths (1000–1300 m) as a result of an extensive coral reef community based on the bioherm-forming scleractinian Solenosmilia variabilis. However, megabenthos abundance peaked in a deeper, low diversity assemblage at 2000–2500 m. The S. variabilis reef and the deep biomass zone were separated by an extensive dead, sub-fossil S. variabilis reef and a relatively low biomass stratum on volcanic rock roughly coincident with the oxygen minimum layer. Below 2400 m, megabenthos was increasingly sparse, though punctuated by occasional small pockets of relatively high diversity and biomass. Nonetheless, megabenthic organisms were observed in the vast majority of photographs on all seabed habitats and to the maximum depths observed - a sandy plain below 3950 m. Taxonomic studies in progress suggest that the observed depth zonation is based in part on changing species mixes with depth, but also an underlying commonality to much of the seamount and rocky substrate biota across all depths. Although the mechanisms supporting the extraordinarily high biomass in 2000–2500 m depths remains obscure, plausible explanations include equatorwards lateral transport of polar production and/or a response to depth-stratified oxygen availability.
  • Article
    Primary U distribution in scleractinian corals and its implications for U series dating
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-05-24) Robinson, Laura F. ; Adkins, Jess F. ; Fernandez, Diego P. ; Burnett, Donald S. ; Wang, S.-L. ; Gagnon, Alexander C. ; Krakauer, Nir
    In this study we use microsampling techniques to explore diagenetic processes in carbonates. These processes are important as they can affect the accuracy of U series chronometry. Fission track maps of deep-sea scleractinian corals show a threefold difference between the minimum and maximum [U] in modern corals, which is reduced to a factor of 2 in fossil corals. We use micromilling and MC-ICP-MS to make detailed analyses of the [U] and δ234Uinitial distributions in corals from 218 ka to modern. Within each fossil coral we observe a large range of δ234Uinitial values, with high δ234Uinitial values typically associated with low [U]. A simple model shows that this observation is best explained by preferential movement of alpha-decay produced 234U atoms (alpha-recoil diffusion). Open-system addition of 234U may occur when alpha-recoil diffusion is coupled with a high [U] surface layer, such as organic material. This process can result in large, whole-coral δ234Uinitial elevations with little effect on the final age. The diagenetic pathways that we model are relevant to both shallow-water and deep-sea scleractinian corals since both exhibit primary [U] heterogeneity and may be subject to U addition.
  • Article
    Deep-sea scleractinian coral age and depth distributions in the northwest Atlantic for the last 225,000 years
    (University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 2007-11-01) Robinson, Laura F. ; Adkins, Jess F. ; Scheirer, Daniel S. ; Fernandez, Diego P. ; Gagnon, Alexander C. ; Waller, Rhian G.
    Deep-sea corals have grown for over 200,000 yrs on the New England Seamounts in the northwest Atlantic, and this paper describes their distribution both with respect to depth and time. Many thousands of fossil scleractinian corals were collected on a series of cruises from 2003-2005; by contrast, live ones were scarce. On these seamounts, the depth distribution of fossil Desmophyllum dianthus (Esper, 1794) is markedly different to that of the colonial scleractinian corals, extending 750 m deeper in the water column to a distinct cut-off at 2500 m. This cut-off is likely to be controlled by the maximum depth of a notch-shaped feature in the seamount morphology. The ages of D. dianthus corals as determined by U-series measurements range from modern to older than 200,000 yrs. The age distribution is not constant over time, and most corals have ages from the last glacial period. Within the glacial period, increases in coral population density at Muir and Manning Sea-mounts coincided with times at which large-scale ocean circulation changes have been documented in the deep North Atlantic. Ocean circulation changes have an effect on coral distributions, but the cause of the link is not known.
  • Preprint
    Environmental and biological controls on Mg and Li in deep-sea scleractinian corals
    ( 2010-09-06) Case, David H. ; Robinson, Laura F. ; Auro, Maureen E. ; Gagnon, Alexander C.
    Deep-sea scleractinian corals precipitate aragonite skeletons that provide valuable archives of past ocean conditions. During calcification biological mediation causes variability in trace metal incorporation and isotopic ratios of the aragonite such that signals caused by environmental controls can be overwhelmed. This complicates the interpretation of geochemical proxies used for paleo-reconstructions. In this study we examine the environmental controls on the Mg/Li ratio of 34 individuals from seven genera of deep-sea scleractinian corals: Desmophyllum, Balanophyllia, Caryophyllia, Enallopsammia, Flabellum, Trochocyanthus, and Lophelia. In addition we examine the distributions of Mg and Li in Desmophyllum and Balanophyllia using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Both Mg/Ca and Li/Ca ratios increased by more than a factor of 2 in the center of calcification regions compared to the outer, fibrous regions of the coral skeleton. As a result, replicate ~10 mg subsamples of coral show less variability in the Mg/Li ratio than Mg/Ca. Microscale Mg and Li results are consistent with Rayleigh-type incorporation of trace metals with additional processes dominating composition within centers of calcification. Comparison of Mg/Li to seawater properties near the site of collection shows that the ratio is not controlled by either carbonate ion or salinity. It appears that temperature is the major control on the Mg/Li ratio. For all 34 samples the temperature correlation (R2=0.62) is significantly better than for Mg/Ca (R2=0.06). For corals of the family Caryophyllidae the R2 value increases to 0.82 with the exclusion of one sample that was observed to have an altered, chalky texture. Despite this excellent correlation the scatter in the data suggests that the Mg/Li ratio of deep-sea corals cannot be used to reconstruct temperature to better than approximately ±1.6°C without better temperature control and additional calibration points on modern coral samples.
  • Article
    Interlaboratory study for coral Sr/Ca and other element/Ca ratio measurements
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-09-23) Hathorne, Ed C. ; Gagnon, Alexander C. ; Felis, Thomas ; Adkins, Jess F. ; Asami, Ryuji ; Boer, Wim ; Caillon, Nicolas ; Case, David H. ; Cobb, Kim M. ; Douville, Eric ; deMenocal, Peter B. ; Eisenhauer, Anton ; Garbe-Schonberg, Dieter ; Geibert, Walter ; Goldstein, Steven L. ; Hughen, Konrad A. ; Inoue, Mayuri ; Kawahata, Hodaka ; Kolling, Martin ; Cornec, Florence L. ; Linsley, Braddock K. ; McGregor, Helen V. ; Montagna, Paolo ; Nurhati, Intan S. ; Quinn, Terrence M. ; Raddatz, Jacek ; Rebaubier, Helene ; Robinson, Laura F. ; Sadekov, Aleksey ; Sherrell, Robert M. ; Sinclair, Dan ; Tudhope, Alexander W. ; Wei, Gangjian ; Wong, Henri ; Wu, Henry C. ; You, Chen-Feng
    The Sr/Ca ratio of coral aragonite is used to reconstruct past sea surface temperature (SST). Twenty-one laboratories took part in an interlaboratory study of coral Sr/Ca measurements. Results show interlaboratory bias can be significant, and in the extreme case could result in a range in SST estimates of 7°C. However, most of the data fall within a narrower range and the Porites coral reference material JCp-1 is now characterized well enough to have a certified Sr/Ca value of 8.838 mmol/mol with an expanded uncertainty of 0.089 mmol/mol following International Association of Geoanalysts (IAG) guidelines. This uncertainty, at the 95% confidence level, equates to 1.5°C for SST estimates using Porites, so is approaching fitness for purpose. The comparable median within laboratory error is <0.5°C. This difference in uncertainties illustrates the interlaboratory bias component that should be reduced through the use of reference materials like the JCp-1. There are many potential sources contributing to biases in comparative methods but traces of Sr in Ca standards and uncertainties in reference solution composition can account for half of the combined uncertainty. Consensus values that fulfil the requirements to be certified values were also obtained for Mg/Ca in JCp-1 and for Sr/Ca and Mg/Ca ratios in the JCt-1 giant clam reference material. Reference values with variable fitness for purpose have also been obtained for Li/Ca, B/Ca, Ba/Ca, and U/Ca in both reference materials. In future, studies reporting coral element/Ca data should also report the average value obtained for a reference material such as the JCp-1.