Strontianite in Coral Skeletal Aragonite

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Science  07 Mar 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5305, pp. 1452-1454
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5305.1452

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An x-ray spectroscopic study of scleractinian coral skeletons indicated that, although some strontium substitutes for calcium in the aragonite structure, at concentrations of about 7500 parts per million, as much as 40 percent of the strontium resides in strontianite (SrCO3). A doublet peak in the Fourier transform of the extended x-ray absorption fine structure of the coral corresponded to six metal and 13 oxygen neighbors surrounding strontium at about 4.05 angstroms in strontium-substituted aragonite and at about 4.21 angstroms in strontianite. Thus, the mechanism of the temperature-sensitive partitioning of strontium between seawater and coral skeleton used for paleothermometry is unexpectedly complex.

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