Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Glass sponge as a living climate archive

03.04.2012
An 11,000 year-old deep-sea sponge provides a record of past environmental changes in the sea.

Climate scientists have discovered a new archive of historical sea temperatures. With the help of the skeleton of a sponge that belongs to the Monorhaphis chuni species and that lived for 11,000 years in the East China Sea an international team around scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry could show that the deep ocean temperature changed several times over the past millennia.


Microscopic image of a glass sponge. The image shows a one millimeter cross section of the skeleton of Monorhaphis chuni. The lamellae grew inside outwards during the 11,000 years. The chemical elements incorporated during this period show that the water temperature in its environment changed significantly several times. Picture: Werner E. G. Müller, University Medical Center Mainz.


Skeleton of the glass sponge Monorhaphis chuni in the hands of Xiaohong Wang. The more than two meters long silica skeleton is flexible and resembles a fiberglass rod. Picture: Werner E. G. Müller, University Medical Center Mainz

As isotopic and elemental analyses showed, the sea water temperature in the vicinity of the sponge increased at least once from less than two degrees Celsius to six to ten degrees Celsius. These temperature changes were not previously known and are due to eruptions of seamounts.

The deep sea is full of unknown creatures, but it is new to find one with which one can trace back thousand years of climate changes. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have now determined the age of a more than two meters long and one centimeter thick glass sponge to be about 11,000 years. It is among the longest living animal species that exist today. From this animal`s skeleton the researchers can also read how its environment and the climate changed during its life.

The team that included amongst researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, researchers from China, and Switzerland, determined the age of the sponge needle, with the Latin name Monorhaphis chuni, based on the isotopic and elemental composition of its skeleton. It consists of silicon dioxide and is reminiscent of a glass fiber rod, made up of hundreds of fine lamellae which have grown annually like the rings of a tree from the inside outwards. The skeleton of the sponge was already found in 1986 at a depth of approximately 1,100 meters in the East China Sea. Here, these bizarre animals, that attach with one end to the seabed, live even today.

"Initially we recognized four areas under the electron microscope where the lamellae grew irregularly," says Klaus Peter Jochum, lead author of the now -published study. "They indicate time periods of increasing water temperature, for example due to the eruption of a seamount," adds the Mainz biogeochemist who was introduced to the fascinating research object through the sponge experts Werner E. G. Müller and Xiaohong Wang from the Institute of Physiological Chemistry of the University Medical Center Mainz. Manganese traces in the skeleton indicate periods of hydrothermal activity in the sea, as the manganese concentration in the water increases after the eruption of a seamount.

In addition, the researchers investigated the lamellae for trace elements and oxygen isotopes with the help of various mass spectrometers. The ratio of magnesium to calcium and the distribution of oxygen isotopes allow conclusions about the water temperature during the period in which the sponge incorporated these chemical elements into its skeleton. At a depth of 1000 meters and more the sea temperatures are rather uniform worldwide. The temperature in the vicinity of the glass sponge thus permits conclusions about both the global and the local temperature of the deep sea.

Analyses showed that the outer silica layer of the glass sponge had a temperature of 1.9 degrees Celsius at the time of its birth. As marine scientists know from other sources, this was the temperature in the deep sea 11,000 years ago. The chemical analyses also showed that the water temperature in the first thousand years of the sponge´s life remained almost constant. It then suddenly increased from about two degrees Celsius to six to ten degrees Celsius, and afterwards decreased again to today's sea water temperature of four degrees Celsius. Meanwhile there were further temperature changes, which are also evident through the irregular growth of the lamellae.

The local temperature fluctuations in the East China Sea, which the researchers determined with the help of the glass sponge, were not previously known. The glass sponge thus allows insights into previously unknown climate change. In order to obtain more precise information about the deep sea´s past climate, the researchers want to investigate the sponge needle and other glass sponges for silicon isotopes. They thus help to give climate researchers a more accurate data base for modeling of historical and current climate change.

Original publication:
Siliceous deep-sea sponge Monorhaphis chuni: A potential paleoclimate archive in ancient animals
Klaus Peter Jochum, Xiaohong Wang, Torsten W. Vennemann, Bärbel Sinha and Werner E. G. Müller
Chemical Geology 300-301, Pages 143–151 (2012)

Contact:
Dr. Klaus Peter Jochum
Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Phone: 06131-305 6701
E-mail: k.jochum@mpic.de

Dr. Wolfgang Huisl | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpic.de

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

nachricht What makes erionite carcinogenic?
13.01.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>