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Monday, 10 July 2017

Growth rate determinations from radiocarbon in bamboo corals (genus Keratoisis)

Published Dae
Received 30 March 2015, Revised 11 August 2015, Accepted 12 August 2015, Available online 14 August 2015


  • a Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades NY 10964, USA
  • b School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1JA, UK
  • c Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA


We present 55 14C dates from six Northwest Atlantic bamboo corals.
Keratoisis calcite ∆14C in strong agreement with ∆14C of ambient seawater.
Complications to calculated radial growth rates are observed and discussed.
Keratoisis radial growth rates do not correlate with temperature in the NW Atlantic.


Radiocarbon (14C) measurements are an important tool for determining growth rates of bamboo corals, a cosmopolitan group of calcitic deep-sea corals. Published growth rate estimates for bamboo corals are highly variable, with potential environmental or ecological drivers of this variability poorly constrained. Here we systematically investigate the application of 14C for growth rate determinations in bamboo corals using 55 14C dates on the calcite and organic fractions of six bamboo corals (identified as Keratoisis sp.) from the western North Atlantic Ocean. Calcite 14C measurements on the distal surface of these corals and five previously published bamboo corals exhibit a strong one-to-one relationship with the 14C of dissolved inorganic carbon (DI14C) in ambient seawater (r2=0.98), confirming the use of Keratoisis sp. calcite 14C as a proxy for seawater 14C activity. Radial growth rates determined from 14C age-depth regressions, 14C plateau tuning and bomb 14C reference chronologies range from 12 to 78 µm y−1, in general agreement with previously published radiometric growth rates. We document potential biases to 14C growth rate determinations resulting from water mass variability, bomb radiocarbon, secondary infilling (ontogeny), and growth rate nonlinearity. Radial growth rates for Keratoisis sp. specimens do not correlate with ambient temperature, suggesting that additional biological and/or environmental factors may influence bamboo coral growth rates.
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