Sub-annual fluorescence measurements of coral skeleton: relationship between skeletal luminescence and terrestrial humic-like substances

TitleSub-annual fluorescence measurements of coral skeleton: relationship between skeletal luminescence and terrestrial humic-like substances
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKaushal N, Yang L, Tanzil J, Lee J N, Goodkin NF, Martin P
JournalCoral Reefs
Date Published05/2020
Abstract

Some massive coral core slices reveal luminescent bands under ultraviolet light, which have been attributed to terrestrial humic acids in the skeleton. Coral luminescence has therefore been used to reconstruct past climate and hydrological variability. However, it has remained unresolved how closely coral luminescence at sub-annual resolution is related to terrestrial humic acid concentrations. This study presents a solution-based fluorescence method to quantify terrestrial humic substances in less than 4 mg of coral powder. The results show that in corals from Malaysia and Singapore, the luminescence green-to-blue ratio is correlated with skeletal concentrations of terrestrial humic substances (R2 > 0.40, p < 0.001) at two sites that are exposed to terrestrial dissolved organic matter from peatlands on Sumatra. In contrast, coral cores from two other sites located far from major terrestrial organic matter sources show lower green-to-blue values and no convincing correlation with fluorescence intensity of terrestrial humic substances in the skeleton. Abiogenic aragonite precipitation experiments with both terrestrial and marine organic matter sources confirmed that terrestrial humic substances are readily incorporated into aragonite, but not fluorescent organic matter from marine sources. The results of this study suggest that in coral cores with high luminescence green-to-blue ratios (> 0.6) and large downcore variability (range of ≥ 0.05), the green-to-blue ratio is strongly linked to variation in terrestrial humic substances. Coral cores therefore have the potential to reconstruct past variation in terrigenous dissolved organic carbon fluxes.

DOI10.1007/s00338-020-01959-x