13C–18O bonds in carbonate minerals: A new kind of paleothermometer Academic Article uri icon


  • The abundance of the doubly substituted CO(2) isotopologue, (13)C(18)O(16)O, in CO(2) produced by phosphoric acid digestion of synthetic, inorganic calcite and natural, biogenic aragonite is proportional to the concentration of (13)C-(18)O bonds in reactant carbonate, and the concentration of these bonds is a function of the temperature of carbonate growth. This proportionality can be described between 1 and 50 degrees C by the function: Delta(47) = 0.0592 . 10(6) . T(-2) - 0.02, where Delta(47) is the enrichment, in per mil, of (13)C(18)O(16)O in CO(2) relative to the amount expected for a stochastic (random) distribution of isotopes among all CO(2) isotopologues, and T is the temperature in Kelvin. This relationship can be used for a new kind of carbonate paleothermometry, where the temperature-dependent property of interest is the state of ordering of (13)C and (18)O in the carbonate lattice (i.e., bound together vs. separated into different CO(3)(2-) units), and not the bulk delta(18)O or delta(13)C values. Current analytical methods limit precision of this thermometer to ca. +/- 2 degrees C, 1 sigma. A key feature of this thermometer is that it is thermodynamically based, like the traditional carbonate-water palcothermometer, and so is suitable for interpolation and even modest extrapolation, yet is rigorously independent of the delta(18)O of water and delta(13)C of DIC from which carbonate grew. Thus, this technique can be applied to parts of the geological record where the stable isotope compositions of waters are unknown. Moreover, Simultaneous determinations of Delta(47) and delta(18)O for carbonates will constrain the delta(18)O of water from which they grew. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • March 2006