Oxygen and Carbon Isotopic Growth Record in a Reef Coral from the Florida Keys and a Deep-Sea Coral from Blake Plateau

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Science  10 Nov 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4368, pp. 627-629
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4368.627


Carbon and oxygen isotope analysis through a 30-year (1944 to 1974) growth of Montastrea annularis from Hen and Chickens Reef (Florida Keys) shows a strong yearly variation in the abundances of both carbon-13 and oxygen-18 and a broad inverse relationship between the two isotopes. Normal annual dense bands are formed during the summer and are characterized by heavy carbon and light oxygen. "Stress bands" are formed during particularly severe winters and are characterized by heavy carbon and heavy oxygen. The isotopic effect of Zooxanthellae metabolism dominates the temperature effect on the oxygen-18/oxygen-16 ratio. The isotopic results on the deep-sea solitary coral Bathypsammia tintinnabulum, where Zooxanthellae are nonexistent, indicates that the abundance of the heavy isotopes carbon-13 and oxygen-18 is inversely related to the growth rate, with both carbon and oxygen approaching equilibrium values with increasing skeletal age.