The use of foraminifera as a record of the past neodymium isotope composition of seawater Academic Article uri icon


  • We present new isotopic data for sedimentary planktonic foraminifera, as well as for potential water column and sedimentary sources of neodymium (Nd), which confirm that the isotopic composition of the foraminifera is the same as surface seawater and very different from deep water and sedimentary Nd. The faithfulness with which sedimentary foraminifera record the isotopic signature of surface seawater Nd is difficult to explain given their variable and high Nd/Ca ratios, ratios that are often sedimentary foraminifera, ratios that are often much higher than is plausible for direct incorporation within the calcite structure. We present further data that demonstrate a similarly large range in Nd/Ca ratios in plankton tow foraminifera, a range that may be controlled by redox conditions in the water column. Cleaning experiments reveal, in common with earlier work, that large amounts of Nd are released by cleaning with both hydrazine and diethylene triamine penta-acetic acid, but that the Nd released at each step is of surface origin. While further detailed studies are required to verify the exact location of the surface isotopic signature and the key controls on foraminiferal Nd isotope systematics, these new data place the use of planktonic foraminifera as recorders of surface water Nd isotope ratios, and thus of variations in the past supply of Nd to the oceans from the continents via weathering and erosion, on a reasonably sure footing. Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Vance, D., Scrivner, A. E., Beney, P., Staubwasser, M., Henderson, G. M., & Slowey, N. C.

citation count

  • 97

complete list of authors

  • Vance, D||Scrivner, AE||Beney, P||Staubwasser, M||Henderson, GM||Slowey, NC

publication date

  • June 2004