Mg/Ca Thermometry in Coral Skeletons

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Science  08 Nov 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5289, pp. 961-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5289.961


The magnesium-to-calcium (Mg/Ca) ratio of coral skeletons from Ishigaki Island, Ryukyu Islands, Japan, closely tracked sea surface temperature (SST) over an 8-year period. Measurements were made with the fast technique of inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry. The variation of the coral Mg/Ca ratio with SST change is about four times that of the current, widely used coral strontium-to-calcium ratio. The temporal and geographic variation of the seawater Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio probably has little influence on coral Mg/Ca variation. Results indicate that the coral Mg/Ca ratio has the potential to provide fast, precise, high-resolution proxies for past tropical SSTs.