Rare Earth Elements in Conodont Apatite – #365papers – 2017 – 30

#365papers for January 30, 2017

Zhang, Algeo, Cao, Zhao, Chen, and Li, 2016, Diagenetic uptake of rare earth elements by conodont apatite: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 458, p. 176-197.

What’s it about?

Rare earth elements (REEs) are heavy elements that are uncommon in bones and teeth (composed of bioapatite mineral) in the living animal, but that are often concentrated in the mineral matrix during fossilization. In the past, REEs in conodont bioapatite were thought to be a good record of the REE content of the ocean waters in which they swam.

Why does it matter?

This new study shows that the REE content of conodont bioapatite might be related to other diagenetic (fossilization) processes, meaning that they are not a reliable indicator of what REE values of the ocean waters were.

Why did I read this?

For a long time (at least 20-mumble years) I have been thinking about how REEs could be used to distinguish bones and teeth fossilized in one rock unit from those fossilized in another. There have been quite a few papers on this topic in recent years, and this is just another one.

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