Shells of coexisting species of planktonic foraminifera from the Ontong Java Plateau reveal radiocarbon age offsets of up to 2200 years. Similar offsets are found between fragments and whole shells of single species. Steady state modelling of dissolution and bioturbation within the sedimentary mixed layer predicts age differences of up to several kiloyears due to the interplay between differential dissolution and fragmentation of foraminifer shells and bioturbation. The observation that fragile foraminiferal shells are systematically older than those of more robust species is more difficult to explain. Mechanisms of chemical erosion, interface dissolution, and sediment redistribution are all apparently unable to explain this phenomenon. A possible solution is presented in which a particular species may be represented by two distinct classes of shells which are more or less robust. In this case, differential dissolution and fragmentation causes an increase in the mean age as the fragile class contributes less to the remaining intact shells. This study highlights the vulnerability of low sedimentation rate cores to the effects of dissolution and bioturbation.
165MCTimes Cited:2Cited References Count:29