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A continuous multi-millennial record of surficial bivalve mollusk shells from the São Paulo Bight, Brazilian shelf

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Troy A. Dexter*
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Darrell S. Kaufman
School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
Richard A. Krause Jr.
Geosciences Institute, Johannes Gutenberg University, Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 21, Mainz 55128, Germany
Susan L. Barbour Wood
Rubicon Geological Consultants, 1690 Sharkey Rd., Morehead, KY 40351, USA
Marcello G. Simões
Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Distrito de Rubião Junior, CP. 510, 18618-970 Botucatu, Brazil
John Warren Huntley
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Yurena Yanes
Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Christopher S. Romanek
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA
Michał Kowalewski
Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
*Corresponding author at: Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, 1659 Museum Rd., P.O. Box 117800, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. E-mail address: (T.A. Dexter).


To evaluate the potential of using surficial shell accumulations for paleoenvironmental studies, an extensive time series of individually dated specimens of the marine infaunal bivalve mollusk Semele casali was assembled using amino acid racemization (AAR) ratios (n = 270) calibrated against radiocarbon ages (n = 32). The shells were collected from surface sediments at multiple sites across a sediment-starved shelf in the shallow sub-tropical São Paulo Bight (São Paulo State, Brazil). The resulting 14C-calibrated AAR time series, one of the largest AAR datasets compiled to date, ranges from modern to 10,307 cal yr BP, is right skewed, and represents a remarkably complete time series: the completeness of the Holocene record is 66% at 250-yr binning resolution and 81% at 500-yr binning resolution. Extensive time-averaging is observed for all sites across the sampled bathymetric range indicating long water depth-invariant survival of carbonate shells at the sediment surface with low net sedimentation rates. Benthic organisms collected from active depositional surfaces can provide multi-millennial time series of biomineral records and serve as a source of geochemical proxy data for reconstructing environmental and climatic trends throughout the Holocene at centennial resolution. Surface sediments can contain time-rich shell accumulations that record the entire Holocene, not just the present.

Research Article
University of Washington

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