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Late Holocene inter-annual temperature variability reconstructed from the δ18O of archaeological Ostrea angasi shells

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Two multi-year oxygen isotope (δ18O) records were obtained from archaeological Ostrea angasi shells, confirming the potential of this species to provide valuable environmental records for the late Holocene period in southeastern Australia. High-resolution δ18Oshell samples from the O. angasi clearly display a seasonal variability, offering insight into past climate conditions in a region where such information is presently limited.

The oxygen isotope record in O. angasi reflects a combined temperature–salinity signal. Observations of δ18Oshell data from modern specimens are used as a point of reference to assist in decoupling these two influences, with the two archaeological samples compared with the δ18Oshell profile of four modern O. angasi. Assuming similar paleo- δ18Owater values at the collection sites, data from these archaeological shells present a record of temperatures during the period of their growth that are consistently lower than modern day, with mean annual temperatures ∼2°C cooler.
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Keywords: Ostrea angasi; late Holocene, midden; oyster; paleoclimate; salinity; δ18O

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia 2: Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611, USA 3: College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 97330, USA

Publication date: August 18, 2017

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