Paleoclimate reconstruction using carbonate clumped isotope thermometry
Carbonate clumped isotope thermometry is a relatively new paleotemperature proxy based on measurements of the degree of ordering of 13C and 18O into bonds with each other (making the 13C18O16O2−2 ion group) in lattices of carbonate minerals. This technique has several unusual properties that complement existing methods of paleoclimate reconstruction. Most importantly, it is based on a homogeneous isotope exchange equilibrium and thus constrains temperature independent of the isotopic composition of waters from which carbonates grew. This method also appears to be generally insensitive to ‘vital effects’ that compromise many other paleothermometers based on the chemical properties of biominerals or organic matter, at least for those organisms that have been subjected to systematic study to-date (corals and foraminifera); however, discrepancies among some calibrations, particularly at low temperatures, may point toward the existence of vital effects in mollusks and other organisms. This review discusses the principles and calibrations of the technique, its uses in combination with conventional stable isotope measurements to constrain the Î´18O of past waters, preservation of paleotemperatures in ancient materials, as well as current problems in our understanding of calibrations and interlaboratory data comparisons.