Mg/Ca-Temperature Calibration of Polar Benthic foraminifera species for reconstruction of bottom water temperatures on the Antarctic shelf

Elaine M Mawbey*, Katharine Hendry, Mervyn Greaves, Claus Dieter Hillenbrand, Gerhard Kuhn, Charlotte Spencer-Jones, Erin L Mcclymont, Kara Vadman, Amelia E. Shevenell, Patrycja Jernas, James Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Early online date4 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020


  • Mg/Ca-temperature calibration
  • Benthic foraminifera
  • Antarctica
  • Paleotemperature reconstruction
  • core-tops


Dive into the research topics of 'Mg/Ca-Temperature Calibration of Polar Benthic foraminifera species for reconstruction of bottom water temperatures on the Antarctic shelf'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this