Amino acid racemization in Neogloboquadrina pachyderma and Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi from the Arctic Ocean and its implications for age models

Gabriel West, Darrell S. Kaufman, Martin Jakobsson, Matt O'Regan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We report the results of amino acid racemization (AAR) analyses of aspartic acid (Asp) and glutamic acid (Glu) in the planktic Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, and the benthic Cibicidoides wuellerstorfi, foraminifera species collected from sediment cores from the Arctic Ocean. The cores were retrieved at various deep-sea sites of the Arctic, which cover a large geographical area from the Greenland and Iceland seas (GIS) to the Alpha and Lomonosov ridges in the central Arctic Ocean. Age models for the investigated sediments were developed by multiple dating and correlation techniques, including oxygen isotope stratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, lithostratigraphy, and cyclostratigraphy. The extent of racemization (D/L values) was determined on 95 samples (1028 subsamples) and shows a progressive increase downcore for both foraminifera species. Differences in the rates of racemization between the species were established by analysing specimens of both species from the same stratigraphic levels (n = 21). Aspartic acid (Asp) and glutamic acid (Glu) racemize on average 16±2%and 23±3%faster, respectively, in C. wuellerstorfi than in N. pachyderma. The D/L values increase with sample age in nearly all cases, with a trend that follows a simple power function. Scatter around least-squares regression fits are larger for samples from the central Arctic Ocean than for those from the Nordic Seas. Calibrating the rate of racemization in C. wuellerstorfi using independently dated samples from the Greenland and Iceland seas for the past 400 ka enables estimation of sample ages from the central Arctic Ocean, where bottom water temperatures are presently relatively similar. The resulting ages are older than expected when considering the existing age models for the central Arctic Ocean cores. These results confirm that the differences are not due to taxonomic effects on AAR and further warrant a critical evaluation of existing Arctic Ocean age models. A better understanding of temperature histories at the investigated sites, and other environmental factors that may influence racemization rates in central Arctic Ocean sediments, is also needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-299
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 19 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology


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