The diagenesis of the hydroxy amino acids serine and threonine in foraminiferal tests has been investigated. The decomposition pathways of these amino acids are complex; the principal reactions appear to be dehydration, aldol cleavage and decarboxylation. Stereochemical studies indicate that the ??-amino-n-butyric acid (ABA) detected in foraminiferal tests is the end product of threonine dehydration pathway. Decomposition of serine and threonine in foraminiferal tests from two well-dated Caribbean deep-sea cores, P6304-8 and -9, has been found to follow irreversible first-order kinetics. Three empirical equations were derived for the disappearance of serine and threonine and the appearance of ABA. These equations can be used as a new geochronological method for dating foraminiferal tests from other deep-sea sediments. Preliminary results suggest that ages deduced from the ABA kinetics equation are most reliable because "species effect" and contamination problems are not important for this nonbiological amino acid. Because of the variable serine and threonine contents of modern foraminiferal species, it is likely that the accurate age estimates can be obtained from the serine and threonine decomposition equations only if a homogeneous species assemblage or single species sample isolated from mixed natural assemblages is used. ?? 1978.
Additional publication details
Decomposition of hydroxy amino acids in foraminiferal tests; kinetics, mechanism and geochronological implications