Evaluation of I/Ca ratios in benthic foraminifera from the Peruvian oxygen minimum zone as proxy for redox conditions in the ambient water masses

Monday, 15 December 2014
Nicolaas Glock, Volker Liebetrau and Anton Eisenhauer, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany
Tropical oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are most important areas of oxygen depletion in today´s oceans and nutrient cycling in these regions has a large socio-economic impact because they account for about 17% of the global commercial fish catches(1). Possibly increasing magnitude and area of oxygen depletion in these regions, might endanger rich pelagic fish habitats in the future threatening the global marine food supply. By the use of a quantitative redox proxy in OMZs, reconstruction of the temporal variation in OMZ extension eventually providing information about past and future changes in oxygenation and the anthropogenic role in the recent trend of expanding OMZs(2).

Recent work has shown that iodine/calcium (I/Ca) ratios in marine carbonates are a promising proxy for ambient oxygen concentration(3). Our study explores the correlation of I/Ca ratios in four benthic foraminiferal species (three calcitic, one aragonitic) from the Peruvian OMZ to bottom water oxygen concentrations ([O2]BW) and evaluates foraminiferal I/Ca ratios as a possible redox proxy for the ambient water masses. Our results show that all species have a positive trend in the I/Ca ratios as a function of [O2]BW. Only for the aragonitic species Hoeglundina elegans this trend is not significant. The highest significance has been found for Uvigerina striata (I/Ca = 0.032(±0.004).[O2]BW + 0.29(±0.03), R² = 0.61, F = 75, P < 0.0001). Although I/Ca ratios in benthic foraminifera appear to be a robust redox proxy there are some methodical issues which have to be considered. These “pitfalls” include: (i) the volatility of iodine in acidic solutions, (ii) a species dependency of the I/Ca-[O2]BW relationship which is either related to a strong vital effect or toa species dependency on the calcification depth within sediment, and (iii) the inter-test variability of I/Ca between different specimens from the same species and habitat.

(1): FAO FishStat: Fisheries and aquaculture software. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department[online]. Rome. Updated 28 Nov. 2013.

(2): Stramma et al.: Expanding Oxygen-Minimum Zones in the Tropical Oceans, Science, 320, 655-658, 2008.

(3): Lu et al.: Iodine to calcium ratios in marine carbonate as a paleo-redox proxy during oceanic anoxic events, Geology, 38, 1107-1110, 2010.