Deep-sea corals: A new ocean archive
Jess Adkins, Ph.D.
Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
Friday, May 22, 1998
12:00 noonPacific Forum
Deep-sea corals are an extraordinary new archive of deep-ocean behavior. Through their
relatively slow growth rates and intermediate- to abyssal-depth habitats, these species
can record deep-ocean changes in chemistry and circulation at sub-decadal time scales. The
species Desmophyllum cristagalli is a solitary coral composed of uranium rich,
density-banded aragonite. Modern specimens collected from waters of known composition can
be used to calibrate paleoceanographic tracers and study this species' growth rate and
pattern. Using a newly developed ICP-MS age screening method, large numbers of fossil
samples can be processed relatively quickly and inexpensively to uncover interesting
corals for further analysis. Older specimens can constrain two important problems in
current paleoclimate research: the deep ocean's behavior during rapid climate changes in
the past glacial cycle, and the rate of deep-ocean circulation in the past.
I will present data on the rate of deep-circulation change during the beginning of the
last deglaciation and discuss some possible uses of MBARI's submersible capabilities to
study these animals in situ.
remote sensing of the Earth's plate boundaries
Last updated: December 19, 2000