High-precision radiogenic strontium isotope measurements of the modern and glacial ocean: Limits on glacial–interglacial variations in continental weathering

Mokadem, Fatima, Parkinson, Ian J., Hathorne, Ed C., Anand, Pallavi, Allen, John T. and Burton, Kevin W. (2015) High-precision radiogenic strontium isotope measurements of the modern and glacial ocean: Limits on glacial–interglacial variations in continental weathering Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 415 . pp. 111-120. DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.01.036.

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Supplementary data:



• High-precision glacial–interglacial 87Sr/86Sr record from planktic foraminifera.
• Major oceans yield indistinguishable 87Sr/86Sr values at ±5 ppm level of precision.
• Foraminifera show no resolvable 87Sr/86Sr variation since last glacial interval.
• These data accommodate a ±12% variation for the steady-state weathering flux.
• A short-term weathering pulse during de-glaciation is not accommodated by the data.


Existing strontium radiogenic isotope (87Sr/86Sr) measurements for foraminifera over Quaternary glacial–interglacial climate cycles provide no evidence for variations in the isotope composition of seawater at the ±9–13 ppm level of precision. However, modelling suggests that even within this level of uncertainty significant (up to 30%) variations in chemical weathering of the continents are permitted, accounting for the longer-term rise in 87Sr/86Sr over the Quaternary, and the apparent imbalance of Sr in the oceans at the present-day. This study presents very high-precision 87Sr/86Sr isotope data for modern seawater from each of the major oceans, and a glacial–interglacial seawater record preserved by planktic foraminifera from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 758 in the north-east Indian ocean. Strontium isotope 87Sr/86Sr measurements for modern seawater from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans are indistinguishable from one another (87Sr/86Sr = 0.7091792 ± 0.0000021, n=17n=17) at the level of precision obtained in this study (±4.9 ppm 2σ). This observation is consistent with the very long residence time of Sr in seawater, and underpins the utility of this element for high precision isotope stratigraphy. The 87Sr/86Sr seawater record preserved by planktic foraminifera shows no resolvable glacial–interglacial variation (87Sr/86Sr = 0.7091784 ± 0.0000035, n=10n=10), and limits the response of seawater to variations in the chemical weathering flux and/or composition to ±4.9 ppm or less. Calculations suggest that a variation of ±12% around the steady-state weathering flux can be accommodated by the uncertainties obtained here. The new data cannot accommodate a short-term weathering pulse during de-glaciation, although a more a diffuse weathering pulse accompanying protracted ice retreat is permissible. However, these results still indicate that modern weathering fluxes are potentially higher than average over the Quaternary, and such variations through glacial cycles can also account for the longer-term rise in 87Sr/86Sr over this time interval. The very high-precision measurements made for the marine 87Sr/86Sr record in this study place clear limits on the magnitude and timing of changes in the chemical weathering flux during glacial–interglacial cycles. Further, constraints must be sought from even higher precision measurement or elements with shorter residence times in the ocean, such as osmium (Os), that have the capacity to respond to short-term variations in input.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000350929600011
Keywords: radiogenic strontium isotopes; 87Sr/86Sr; seawater; foraminifera; glacial–interglacial climate change; weathering and erosion; ODP Leg 121 Site 758
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.01.036
ISSN: 0012-821X
Related URLs:
Projects: ODP
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2015 14:36
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 14:15
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/27672

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