Abstract

D-alloisoleucine/L-isoleucine (D/L) ratios were measured in Tridacna gigas (the giant clam) whose ages were calibrated against radiometrically dated coral reef terraces from New Guinea and storm ridges on coral islands from the Great Barrier Reef. The results of 52 samples show several distinct intervals encompassing a fast epimerization phase at a rate of 0.077/ka for the first 8 ka, a transitional interval for the next 60 ka during which epimerization evolves at the rate of 0.006/ka, and the final phase between 60 and 185 ka when D/L ratios attain quasi-equilibrium (∼1.30) at an average rate of 0.003/ka. The demonstrated relation between the D/L ratios and the radiometric ages is useful for estimating ages of undated or insufficiently dated terraces. A comparison of the "New Guinea curve" and other less completely dated curves from elsewhere demonstrates the effect of sedimentary temperature on the rate of epimerization through time. Refinements of the D/L reaction among coral reef terraces, coupled with a better definition of the kinetic model presented here, would improve our knowledge of the temperature history and the chrono-stratigraphy of Quaternary coral reefs.

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