We used Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) ion microprobe to analyze
magnesium-to-calcium (Mg/Ca) and strontium-to-calcium (Sr/Ca) ratios of high-Mg calcite
loculi within the skeleton of a shallow water gorgonian, Plexaurella dichotoma, from Bermuda.
A cross-section of the gorgonian skeleton reveals loculi embedded within proteinaceous
gorgonin arranged in concentric rings about the axial core. Viewed in cross-section, the loculi
are fan-shaped, 10-140 ?m in diameter, and composed of bundles of needle-shaped crystals that
appear to radiate out from a calcification center. Discrete sample spots, each 20 ?m diameter,
were sputtered from successive loculi along a sample track 3 mm long. Over this distance,
twenty-five bands of high-low density gorgonin couplets were encountered, estimated to
represent the period 1963 to 1988. Mg/Ca ratios show an overall, positive correlation with
annual sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that is strongest in the autumn months (October-
December). High-resolution analyses along the growth axes of individual loculi reveal low
variability and no trend, consistent with our interpretation of seasonal growth of these calcite
inclusions. The sensitivity of Mg/Ca to interannual changes in average autumn temperatures is
0.47 mmol/mol per ºC. Conversely, interannual variability in calcite Sr/Ca does not follow the
interannual variability in SST and may be influenced primarily by growth rate.