The Radial Growth Rate of Japanese Precious Corals Using Pb-210 Dating Method

Friday, 19 December 2014
Masatoshi Yamada, Hirosaki University, Aomori, Japan, Nozomu Iwasaki, Rissho University, Kumagaya, Japan, Atsushi Suzuki, AIST, Tsukuba, Japan and Tatsuo Aono, Natl Inst Radiological Sci, Chiba, Japan
Precious corals belong to the subclass Octocorallia of the class Anthozoa. Its major component is calcium carbonate and the crystal structure is high-Mg calcite. Their skeletal axes are used for jewellery, rosary, amulet, etc. They are found mainly in the Japanese coast, the Mediterranean and off the Midway Islands and they are distributed at a depth of 100 m to 1500m. The growing skeletons of precious corals have potential for recording environmental change. Pb-210 is a naturally occurring radionuclide with a half-life of 22.3 years. Pb-210 is a natural sediment marker suitable for dating events that have occurred over the past 100 years and has been used to measure the sedimentation rates of lake and coastal marine sediments. The objectives of this study were to measure the Pb-210 concentration in the skeletons of Japanese red coral, pink coral and white coral and to estimate the radial growth rate using Pb-210 dating method. The radial growth rate of the skeleton can be estimated by the gradual decrease in Pb-210 concentrations measured from the surface inwards. The radial growth rate of the pink coral skeleton (Corallium elatius), collected at depths of 200 to 300 m off the coast of the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, was 0.15 mm/year, so slow that it would take as long as 50 years for a colony to grow to 15 mm in diameter.