Silicon isotopes in Antarctic sponges: an interlaboratory comparison

Katharine R. Hendry, Melanie J. Leng, Laura F. Robinson, Hilary J. Sloane, Jerzy Blusztjan, Rosalind E. M. Rickaby, R. Bastian Georg, Alex N. Halliday

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

41 Citations (Scopus)


Cycling of deepwater silicon (Si) within the Southern Ocean, and its transport into other ocean basins, may be an important player in the uptake of atmospheric carbon, and global climate. Recent work has shown that the Si isotope (denoted by delta Si-29 or delta Si-30) composition of deep sea sponges reflects the availability of dissolved Si during growth, and is a potential proxy for past deep and intermediate water silicic acid concentrations. As with any geochemical tool, it is essential to ensure analytical precision and accuracy, and consistency between methodologies and laboratories. Analytical bias may exist between laboratories, and sponge material may have matrix effects leading to offsets between samples and standards. Here, we report an interlaboratory evaluation of Si isotopes in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic sponges. We review independent methods for measuring Si isotopes in sponge spicules. Our results show that separate subsamples of non-homogenized sponges measured by three methods yield isotopic values within analytical error for over 80% of specimens. The relationship between delta Si-29 and delta Si-30 in sponges is consistent with kinetic fractionation during biomineralization. Sponge Si isotope analyses show potential as palaeoceaongraphic archives, and we suggest Southern Ocean sponge material would form a useful additional reference standard for future spicule analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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