A suite of elements (B, Na, Mg, S, K, Ca, V, Mn, Cr, Sr, and Ba) was measured in aragonitic shells of the estuarine bivalve Corbula amurensis, the Asian clam, using the Sensitive High-Resolution Ion MicroProbe with Reverse Geometry (SHRIMP RG). Our initial intent was to explore potential geochemical proxy relationships between shell chemistry and salinity (freshwater inflow) in northern San Francisco Bay (SFB). In the course of this study we observed variations in shell trace element to calcium ([M]/Ca) ratios that could only be attributed to internal biological processes. This paper discusses the nature and sources of internal trace element variability in C. amurensis shells related to the shell organic fraction and shell calcification rates. The average organic content of whole C. amurensis shells is 19%. After treating whole powdered shells with an oxidative cleaning procedure to remove organic matter, shells contained on average 33% less total Mg and 78% less total Mn. Within our analytical uncertainty, Sr and Ba contents were unchanged by the removal of organic matter. These results show that aragonitic C. amurensis shells have a large component of non-lattice-bound Mg and Mn that probably contribute to the dissimilarity of [M]/Ca profiles among five same-sized shells. Non-lattice-bound trace elements could complicate the development and application of geochemical proxy relationships in bivalve shells. Because B, Ba and Sr occur exclusively in shell aragonite, they are good candidates for external proxy relationships. [M]/Ca ratios were significantly different in prismatic and nacreous aragonite and in two valves of the same shell that had different crystal growth rates. Some part of these differences can be attributed to non-lattice-bound trace elements associated with the organic fraction. The differences in [M]/Ca ratios were also consistent with the calcification rate-dependent ion transport model developed by Carr?? et al. [Carr?? M., Bentaleb I., Bruguier O., Ordinola E., Barrett N. T. and Fontugne M. (2006) Calcification rate influence on trace element concentrations in aragonitic bivalve shells: evidences and mechanisms. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 70, 4906-4920] which predicts that [M]/Ca ratios increase as calcification rates increase and Ca2+ channel specificity decreases. This result, in combination with the possibility that there were ontogenetic variations in growth rates among individuals younger than 2 years, underscores the need to develop an independent age model for C. amurensis shells. If growth-rate effects on lattice-bound [M]/Ca ratios can be constrained, it may yet be possible to develop high-resolution geochemical proxies for external solution chemistry in low-salinity regions of SFB.
Additional publication details
Influences of organic matter and calcification rate on trace elements in aragonitic estuarine bivalve shells