Sodium and strontium in mollusc shells: preservation, palaeosalinity and palaeotemperature of the Middle Pleistocene of eastern England

Genevive Findlater, Adam Shelton, Timothy Rolin, Julian Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper revisits the utility of sodium (Na) content in aragonite and calcite mollusc shells as an indicator of palaeosalinity. The data come mainly from a related suite of Middle Pleistocene marine and freshwater fossils that have been subject to broadly similar diagenetic histories. Environmental salinity is re-affirmed as the primary factor in determining the sodium content of modern and ancient mollusc shells: values 2000 Na ppm are typically from marine shells. There is a positive relationship between Na (salinity) and Sr which is a helpful discriminator of palaeosalinity in the fossil data set. The Na and Sr data give confidence that the fossil shells have not suffered pervasive diagenetic alteration and that the marine fossils lived in fully marine conditions. Oxygen isotope values in the best-preserved, fully marine fossil shells, suggest Middle Pleistocene 'eastern England' seawater temperatures were broadly similar to those of the modern North Sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-19
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Sodium
  • Strontium
  • Mollusc shells
  • Palaeosalinity
  • Pleistocene

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