Constraints on barium isotope fractionation during aragonite precipitation by corals

Pretet, Chloé; van Zuilen, Kirsten; Nägler, Thomas; Reynaud, Stéphanie; Böttcher, Michael E.; Samankassou, Elias (2016). Constraints on barium isotope fractionation during aragonite precipitation by corals. The Depositional Record, 1(2), pp. 118-129. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1002/dep2.8

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We present a barium (Ba) isotope fractionation study of marine biogenic carbonates (aragonitic corals). The major aim is to provide first constraints on the Ba isotope fractionation between modern surface sea water and coral skele- ton. Mediterranean surface sea water was found to be enriched in the heavy Ba isotopes compared to previously reported values for marine open ocean authi- genic and terrestrial minerals. In aquarium experiments with a continuous sup- ply of Mediterranean surface water, the Ba isotopic composition of the bulk sample originating from cultured, aragonitic scleractinian corals (d137/134Ba between +0.16 +/- 0.12permil and +0.41 +/-0.12permil) were isotopically identical or lighter than that of the ambient Mediterranean surface sea water (d137/134Ba = +0.42 +/- 0.07permil, 2SD), which corresponds to an empirical maximum value of Ba isotope fractionation of D137/134Bacoral-seawater = -0.26 +/- 0.14permil at 25°C. This maximum Ba isotope fractionation is close and identical in direction to previous results from inorganic precipitation experiments with aragonite- structured pure BaCO3 (witherite). The variability in measured Ba concentrations of the cultured corals is at odds with a uniform distribution coefficient, DBa/Ca, thus indicating stronger vital effects on isotope than element discrimination. This observation supports the hypothesis that the Ba isotopic compositions of these corals do not result from simple equilibrium between the skeleton and the bulk sea water. Complementary coral samples from natural settings (tropical shallow-water corals from the Bahamas and Florida and cold- water corals from the Norwegian continental shelf) show an even wider range in d137/134Ba values (+0.14 +/- 0.08permil and +0.77 +/- 0.11permil), most probably due to additional spatial and/or temporal sea water heterogeneity, as indicated by recent publications.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Nägler, Thomas


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Thomas Nägler-Jenni

Date Deposited:

24 Feb 2016 15:40

Last Modified:

02 Sep 2020 02:23

Publisher DOI:





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