Past ocean acidification recorded in the geological record facilitates the understanding of rates and influences of contemporary pCO2 enrichment. Most pH reconstructions are made using boron, however there is some uncertainty associated with vital effects and isotopic fractionation. Here we present a new structural proxy for carbonate chemistry; Mg-O bond strength in coralline algae. Coralline algae were incubated in control (380 μatm pCO2), moderate (750 μatm pCO2), and high (1000 μatm pCO2) acidification conditions for 24 months. Raman spectroscopy was used to determine skeletal Mg-O bond strength. There was a positive linear relationship between pCO2 concentration and bond strength mediated by positional disorder in the calcite lattice when accounting for seasonal temperature. The structural preservation of the carbonate chemistry system in coralline algal high-Mg calcite represents an alternative approach to reconstructing marine carbonate chemistry. Significantly, it also provides an important mechanism for reconstructing historic atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
- Received 23 October 2014.
- Revision received 9 January 2015.
- Accepted 22 January 2015.
- © Geological Society of America
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