Planktic foraminifera iodine/calcium ratios from plankton tows

Helge A. Winkelbauer, Babette A. A. Hoogakker, Rosie J. Chance, Catherine V. Davis, Christopher J. Anthony, Juliane Bischoff, Lucy J. Carpenter, Simon R. N. Chenery, Elliott M. Hamilton, Philip Holdship, Victoria L. Peck, Alex J. Poulton, Mark C. Stinchcombe, Karen F. Wishner

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Planktic foraminifera test iodine to calcium ratios represent an emerging proxy method to assess subsurface seawater oxygenation states. Several core-top studies show lower planktic foraminifera I/Ca in locations with oxygen depleted subsurface waters compared to well oxygenated environments. The reasoning behind this trend is that only the oxidized species of iodine, iodate, is incorporated in foraminiferal calcite. The I/Ca of foraminiferal calcite is thought to reflect iodate contents in seawater. To test this hypothesis, we compare planktic foraminifera I/Ca ratios, obtained from plankton tows, with published and new seawater iodate concentrations from 1) the Eastern North Pacific with extensive oxygen depletion, 2) the Benguela Current System with moderately depleted oxygen concentrations, and 3) the well oxygenated North and South Atlantic. We find the lowest I/Ca ratios (0.07 µmol/mol) in planktic foraminifera retrieved from the Eastern North Pacific, and higher values for samples (up to 0.72 µmol/mol) obtained from the Benguela Current System and North and South Atlantic. The I/Ca ratios of plankton tow foraminifera from environments with well oxygenated subsurface waters, however, are an order of magnitude lower compared to core-tops from similarly well-oxygenated regions. This would suggest that planktic foraminifera gain iodine post-mortem, either when sinking through the water column, or during burial.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1095570
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2023


  • I/Ca
  • oxygen concentration
  • oxygen proxy
  • planktic foraminifera
  • plankton nets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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