Tidal modulation of Sr/Ca ratios in a Pacific reef coral
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The strontium-to-calcium ratio (Sr/Ca) of reef coral skeleton is an important tool for reconstructing past sea surface temperatures (SSTs). However, the accuracy of paleoSSTs derived from fossil coral Sr/Ca is challenged by evidence that physiological processes influence skeletal chemistry. Here we show that water level variations from tidal forcing are correlated with changes in coral Sr/Ca that cannot be accounted for by changes in SST. Ion microprobe measurements of Sr/Ca ratios in a Pacific Porites lutea reveal high-frequency variations at periods of ~6, ~10, and ~25 days. The relationship between Sr/Ca and temperature on these short timescales does not follow trends observed at longer periods, indicating that an additional forcing is required to explain our observations. We demonstrate that Sr/Ca is correlated with both tidal water level variations and SST, and that their contributions to the Sr/Ca content of the skeleton vary as a function of period. We propose that water level influences Sr/Ca indirectly via modulation of photosynthetically-active radiation (PAR) that drives large changes in zooxanthellate photosynthesis.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2004. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 31 (2004): L16310, doi:10.1029/2004GL020600.