Complexities in the palaeoenvironmental and archaeological interpretation of isotopic analyses of the Mud Shell Geloina erosa (Lightfoot, 1786)

Twaddle, Robin W., Wurster, Christopher M., Bird, Michael I., and Ulm, Sean (2017) Complexities in the palaeoenvironmental and archaeological interpretation of isotopic analyses of the Mud Shell Geloina erosa (Lightfoot, 1786). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 12. pp. 613-624.

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Isotope signals derived from molluscan shell carbonates allow researchers to investigate palaeoenvironments and the timing and periodicity of depositional events. However, it cannot be assumed that all molluscan taxa provide equally useful data owing to species-specific biological and ecological traits. The Mud Shell, Geloina erosa (Lightfoot, 1786) (syn. Polymesoda coaxans, syn. Polymesoda erosa), an infaunal mangrove bivalve, is a common component of archaeological deposits along Australia's tropical north coast and throughout the Indo-West Pacific. The ubiquity of G. erosa has led to numerous researchers incorporating this taxon into interpretations of associated deposits, particularly in the generation of radiocarbon chronologies and as a palaeoenvironmental proxy. Despite this, concerns have been expressed regarding the impact of G. erosa physiology and ecology on associated geochemical signals. Adaptations allowing the survival of this species within its highly changeable mangrove environment may introduce complexities into radiocarbon and environmental data archived within its shell. This study combines local environmental and hydrological data with isotopic analysis (δ18O, δ13C, and 14C) of live-collected specimens to explore the interpretability of geochemical proxies derived from G. erosa. Results suggest a number of factors may impact geochemical markers in unpredictable ways, eroding the usefulness of associated interpretations.

Item ID: 47986
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2352-409X
Keywords: palaeoenvironmental proxy; palaeoenvironmental reconstruction; sclerochronology; stable isotope analysis; radiocarbon dating; Geloina erosa, syn. Polymesoda coaxans, syn. Polymesoda erosa
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Project Number DP120103179, ARC Future Fellowship Project Number FT120100656
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2017 23:04
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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