Biogeochemical Integrity of Cetacean Bioapatites Exposed to Simulated Burial Conditions

Wolff, Shana
High mineralization and low porosity prevent ion exchanges with bioapatite, conditions found in the whale tympanic bulla. Cetacean bullae may be ideal specimens for isotopic research. Extending stable isotope analysis to later mysticetes, with the use of bullae in place of enamel, would provide a more complete picture of whale evolution. Whale tympanic bullae would allow us to study the ecology of this order for the past 50 million years. To understand preservation potential of the tympanic bullae, experiments of differing temperature and pressure conditions will be carried out with a variety of bioapatites such as bone, enamel, and cetacean bullae. This design will simulate natural burial conditions and allow me to determine the extent of isotopic and elemental exchange during diagenesis.
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