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Trace-element and stable-isotope geochemistry of non-marine ostracod shells in Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction

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Ostracods are small bivalved aquatic crustancean. They secrete shells of low-Mg calcite that are often preserved in lake sediments. Recent work has shown that the uptake of trace elements (especially Mg and Sr) into the shell may be a function of the salinity and temperature of the host water. Furthermore, ostracod shells are a source of carbonate for stable-isotope analysis. This paper reviews the application of ostracod shell chemistry to Quaternary palaeolimnology. Although such work has revealed the excellent potential of these techniques to provide quantitative palaeolimnological reconstructions, a number of problems have also emerged. These problems relate to (1) methods used for extraction of ostracod shells from sediment and their subsequent cleaning (2) post-mortem diagenesis and alteration of the shell (3) complications with the calcification mechanism (4) spatial and temporal variability in shell composition (5) the ecological tolerances of individual species and (6) the relationships between shell chemistry and palaeohydrology. To some extent, these problems are an inevitable outcome of the diversity of lacustrine systems: they may be overcome by developing a thorough understanding of the physiology, life-cycle and ecology of the species concerned, together with the modern limnology of the study site. Overall, these techniques have excellent potential in Quaternary palaeolimnology, especially when used with other palaeoenvironmental indicators.

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Holmes, J.A. Trace-element and stable-isotope geochemistry of non-marine ostracod shells in Quaternary palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. J Paleolimnol 15, 223–235 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00213042

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Key words

  • ostracods
  • trace elements
  • stable isotopes
  • Quaternary
  • palaeolimnology