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Oxygen isotope composition of bivalve seasonal growth increments and ambient water in the rivers Rhine and Meuse

Versteegh, E., Troelstra, S. R., Vonhof, H. B. and Kroon, D. (2009) Oxygen isotope composition of bivalve seasonal growth increments and ambient water in the rivers Rhine and Meuse. Palaios, 24 (8). pp. 497-504. ISSN 0883-1351

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To link to this article DOI: 10.2110/palo.2008.p08-071r

Abstract/Summary

The application of oxygen isotope ratios ({delta}18O) from freshwater bivalves as a proxy for river discharge conditions in the Rhine and Meuse rivers is investigated. We compared a dataset of water temperature and water {delta}18O values with a selection of recent shell {delta}18O records for two species of the genus Unio in order to establish: (1) whether differences between the rivers in water {delta}18O values, reflecting river discharge conditions, are recorded in unionid shells; and (2) to what extent ecological parameters influence the accuracy of bivalve shell {delta}18O values as proxies of seasonal, water oxygen isotope conditions in these rivers. The results show that shells from the two rivers differ significantly in {delta}18O values, reflecting different source waters for these two rivers. The seasonal shell {delta}18O records show truncated sinusoidal patterns with narrow peaks and wide troughs, caused by temperature fractionation and winter growth cessation. Interannual growth rate reconstructions show an ontogenetic growth rate decrease. Growth lines in the shell often, but not always, coincide with winter growth cessations in the {delta}18O record, suggesting that growth cessations in the shell {delta}18O records are a better age estimator than counting internal growth lines. Seasonal predicted and measured {delta}18O values correspond well, supporting the hypothesis that these unionids precipitate their shells in oxygen isotopic equilibrium. This means that (sub-) fossil unionids can be used to reconstruct spring-summer river discharge conditions, such as Meuse low-discharge events caused by droughts and Rhine meltwater-influx events caused by melting of snow in the Alps.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
ID Code:19572
Uncontrolled Keywords:freshwater, inter-annual growth, Mollusca, sclerochronology, Unionidae
Publisher:SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology

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