Journal article

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The stable oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of ammonites and belemnites is a common proxy for Jurassic and Cretaceous sea temperatures. The challenges and uncertainties associated with cephalopod δ18O and other proxy based paleotemperature reconstructions make cephalopods such as ammonites and belemnites a favourable target for carbonate clumped isotope paleothermometry. Our measurements of the clumped isotopic composition of modern cephalopods (Nautilus pompilius, Nautilus macromphalus, Nautilus belauensis and Sepia officianalis), however, confirm significant “vital effects” in clumped isotopic of cephalopod aragonite. We present the first intra-shell measurements of clumped isotopic composition of nautilus demonstrating that clumped isotope composition (∆47) is correlated with δ18O shell carbonate. We observe a decrease in ∆47 from juvenile to adult septa, which does not correspond with changes in surface seawater temperature or temperature variation on vertical migration of the nautilus within the water column. The clumped isotope composition of juvenile septa yield temperatures that are within error of growth temperature while most recently formed septa reflect growth temperatures 3–8 °C above the upper temperature limit of survival of the organism (27 °C). Non-equilibrium effects observed in the ∆47 of modern nautilus comprise up to a 29 °C overestimate in shell formation temperature. Combined δ18O and ∆47 measurements are used to differentiate between potential mechanisms that may generate non-equilibrium signatures observed. Non-equilibrium clumped isotope signatures may result from variations in the salinity of cameral fluid within nautilus chambers, dehydration of HCO3− and/or isotopic fractionation during CO2 diffusion across cell walls. The inter-skeletally variable non-equilibrium offsets in ∆47 of nautili aragonite observed in this study suggest that care must be taken when using the clumped isotope composition of cephalopod carbonate, in particular ammonite aragonite, as a paleotemperature proxy. Belemnite calcite and ontogenetically early septa of aragonitic ammonites may be feasible targets for paleotemperature reconstruction by carbonate clumped isotope thermometry.

Publication date: 
Monday, September 20, 2021