Department of Earth System Science
Sources of Carbon to Deep Sea Corals
- Author(s): Griffin, Sheila
- Druffel, Ellen R M
- et al.
Radiocarbon measurements in deep-sea corals from the Little Bahama Bank were used to determine the source of carbon to the skeletal matrices. Specimens of Lophelia, Gerardia, Paragorgia johnsoni and Corallium noibe were sectioned according to visible growth rings and/or stem diameter. We determined that the source of carbon to the corals accreting organic matter was primarily from surface-derived sources. Those corals that accrete a calcerous skeleton were found to obtain their carbon solely from dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in sea water from the depth at which the corals grew. These results, in conjunction with growth-rate studies using short-lived radioisotopes, support the use of deep-sea corals to reconstruct time histories of transient and non-transient tracers at depth in the oceans.