12 Oct 2021

12 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A database of Holocene nearshore marine mollusc shell geochemistry from the Northeast Pacific

Hannah M. Palmer1, Veronica Padilla Vriesman1, Roxanne M. W. Banker2, and Jessica R. Bean3 Hannah M. Palmer et al.
  • 1Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
  • 2California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA
  • 3Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Abstract. The shells of marine invertebrates can serve as high-resolution records of oceanographic and atmospheric change through time. In particular, oxygen and carbon isotope analyses of nearshore marine calcifiers that grow by accretion over their lifespans provide seasonal records of environmental and oceanographic conditions. Archaeological shell middens generated by Indigenous communities along the Northeast Pacific coast contain shells harvested over multiple seasons for millennia. These shell middens, as well as analyses of archival and modern shells, have the potential to provide multi-site, seasonal archives of nearshore conditions throughout the Holocene. A significant volume of oxygen and carbon isotope data from archaeological shells exists, yet is separately published in archaeological, geochemical, and paleoceanographic journals and has not been comprehensively analyzed to examine oceanographic change over time. Here, we compiled a database of previously published oxygen and carbon isotope data from archaeological, archival, and modern marine molluscs from the North American coast of the Northeast Pacific (32° N to 50° N). This database includes oxygen and carbon isotope data from over 550 modern, archaeological, and sub-fossil shells from 8880 years before present (BP) to the present, from which there are 4,845 total δ13C and 5,071 total δ18O measurements. Shell dating and sampling strategies vary among studies (1–118 samples per shell) and vary significantly by journal discipline. Data are from various bivalves and gastropod species, with Mytilus spp. being the most commonly analyzed taxon. This novel database can be used to investigate changes in nearshore sea surface conditions including warm-cool oscillations, heat waves, and upwelling intensity, and provides nearshore calcite δ13C and δ18O values that can be compared to the vast collections of offshore foraminifera calcite δ13C and δ18O data from marine sediment cores. By utilizing previously published geochemical data from midden and museum shells rather than sampling new specimens, future scientific research can reduce or omit the alteration or destruction of culturally valued specimens and sites. The data set is publicly available through PANGAEA at (Palmer et al., 2021).

Hannah M. Palmer et al.

Status: open (until 07 Dec 2021)

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Hannah M. Palmer et al.

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A database of Holocene nearshore marine mollusc shell geochemistry from the Northeast Pacific Palmer, Hannah M.; Padilla Vriesman, Veronica; Banker, Roxanne M. W.; Bean, Jessica R.

Hannah M. Palmer et al.


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Short summary
Shells of coastal marine organisms can serve as archives of past ocean and climate change. Here, we compiled a database of all available oxygen and carbon isotope values of nearshore marine molluscs from the Northeast Pacific coast of North America through the Holocene including both modern collected shells and shells analyzed from midden sites. This first-of-its-kind database can be used to answer archeological and oceanographic questions in future research.