Mg/Ca and Mn/Ca ratios in benthic foraminifera: the potential to reconstruct past variations in temperature and hypoxia in shelf regions
Shelf and coastal regions are exceptionally important for many countries as they provide the main habitat for many economically important fish and shellfish species. With ongoing climate change and human-induced eutrophication the shelf regions are especially affected, resulting in increased temperatures and stratification as well as oxygen depletion of the bottom waters. In order to be able to predict the magnitude of these changes in the future, it is necessary to study how they varied in the past. Commonly used foraminiferal climate and environmental proxies, e.g., stable isotopes and trace metal/Ca ratios, that are applied in open-ocean settings are not necessarily applicable in shelf regions, either as faunas are significantly different or as conditions can change much faster compared to the open ocean. In this study we explore the use of Mg/Ca as paleothermometer and Mn/Ca as a potential proxy for changing dissolved oxygen conditions in bottom water on the benthic foraminifera Bulimina marginata and Globobulimina turgida. Living specimens were collected from the Skagerrak and the Gullmar Fjord (SW Sweden); the latter is hypoxic for several months a year. As the specimens were alive when collected, we assume it unlikely that any diagenetic coatings have already significantly affected the trace metal/Ca ratios. The Mg/Ca ratios are similar to previously published values but display much larger variation than would be expected from the annual temperature change of less than 2 °C. An additional impact of the difference in the calcite saturation state between the Skagerrak and the Gullmar Fjord could explain the results. Mn/Ca ratios from G. turgida can potentially be related to variations in dissolved oxygen of the habitat where the foraminifera calcify. Samples from the Skagerrak display increased Mn/Ca in specimens that lived deeper in the sediment than those that lived near the surface. G. turgida samples from the low-oxygen Gullmar Fjord showed significantly increased Mn/Ca, being highest when bottom water dissolved oxygen was at a minimum. Our study suggests that trace metal/Ca ratios in benthic foraminifera from shelf regions have the potential to record past variations in bottom water temperature and dissolved oxygen concentrations, but an additional impact of the inorganic carbonate chemistry cannot be excluded.