Element variability in the coralline alga Lithophyllum yemenense as archive of past climate in the Gulf of Aden (NW Indian Ocean)

Annalisa Caragnano, Daniela Basso, David Storz, Dorrit Jacob, Federica Ragazzola, Francesca Benzoni, Eric Dutrieux

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This study presents the first algal thallus (skeleton) archive of Asian Monsoon strength and Red Sea influence in the Gulf of Aden. Mg/Ca, Li/Ca, Ba/Ca were measured on Lithophyllum yemenense from Balhaf (Gulf of Aden) using Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and Mg/Ca ratio oscillation has been used to reconstruct the chronology (34 years). Oscillations of element rates corresponding to the algal growth between 1974 and 2008 were compared with recorded climate and oceanographic variability. During this period the sea surface temperatures (SST) in Balhaf recorded a warming trend of 0.55°C corresponding to an increase in Mg and Li contents in the algal thallus of 2.1 mol % and 1.87 μmol % respectively. L. yemenense recorded decadal SST variability by Li/Ca, and the influence of the Pacific El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the NW Indian Ocean climate system by Ba/Ca. Additionally, algal Mg/Ca, Li/Ca and Ba/Ca show strong and significant correlations to All Indian Rainfall in the decadal range indicating that these proxies track the variability of the Indian Monsoon System. This might be explained by changes of the surface wind system, with deep water upwelling in summer, and a distinct seasonality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-395
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number2
Early online date15 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2017


  • Asian monsson proxy
  • Ba/Ca
  • biogeochemistry
  • Corallinales
  • Laser Ablation ICP-MS
  • Li/Ca
  • Mg/Ca


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