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Mg/Ca-temperature calibration of polar benthic foraminifera species for reconstruction of bottom water temperatures on the Antarctic shelf.

Mawbey, Elaine M. and Hendry, Katharine H. and Greaves, Mervyn J. and Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter and Kuhn, Gerhard and Spencer-Jones, Charlotte L. and McClymont, Erin L. and Vadman, Kara J. and Shevenell, Amelia E. and Jernas, Patrycja E. and Smith, James A. (2020) 'Mg/Ca-temperature calibration of polar benthic foraminifera species for reconstruction of bottom water temperatures on the Antarctic shelf.', Geochimica et cosmochimica acta., 283 . pp. 54-66.


Benthic foraminifera Mg/Ca is a well-established bottom water temperature (BWT) proxy used in paleoclimate studies. The relationship between Mg/Ca and BWT for numerous species has been determined using core-top and culturing studies. However, the scarcity of calcareous microfossils in Antarctic shelf sediments and poorly defined calibrations at low temperatures has limited the use of the foraminiferal Mg/Ca paleothermometer in ice proximal Antarctic sediments. Here we present paired ocean temperature and modern benthic foraminifera Mg/Ca data for three species, Trifarina angulosa, Bulimina aculeata, and Globocassidulina subglobosa, but with a particular focus on Trifarina angulosa. The core-top data from several Antarctic sectors span a BWT range of -1.7 to 1.2˚C and constrain the relationship between Mg/Ca and cold temperatures. We compare our results to published lower-latitude core-top data for species in the same or related genera, and in the case of Trifarina angulosa, produce a regional calibration. The resulting regional equation for Trifarina angulosa is Temperature (°C) = (Mg/Ca -1.14±0.035)/0.069±0.033). Addition of our Trifarina angulosa data to the previously published Uvigerina spp. dataset provides and alternative global calibration, although some data points appear to be offset from this relationship and are discussed. Mg-temperature relationships for Bulimina aculeata and Globocassidulina subglobosa are also combined with previously published data to produce calibration equations of Temperature (°C) = (Mg/Ca-1.04±0.07)/0.099±0.01 and Temperature (°C) = (Mg/Ca-0.99±0.03)/0.087±0.01, respectively. These refined calibrations highlight the potential utility of benthic foraminifera Mg/Ca-paleothermometry for reconstructing past BWT in Antarctic margin settings, although further work is required before they are routinely used.

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Publisher statement:© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date accepted:23 May 2020
Date deposited:01 July 2020
Date of first online publication:04 June 2020
Date first made open access:01 July 2020

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