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Microorganism shells have minor element and trace element concentrations that reflect the conditions under which those organisms lived. Salinity, trace element concentration of the water, temperature, oxygen fugacity, nutrients and other factors may affect shell compositions. Chemical alteration of shells during burial and diagenesis can also be estimated based on variations of some trace elements.
Actlabs has developed technology for analysing ostracods, forams or other microfossils (either singly or in aggregate) for 52 trace elements. Detection limits span from percentages to the part-per-billion (ppb) range. This data has been shown to be useful for determining the environment under which the organisms lived. This information can be used to map depositional conditions in sedimentary basins. Listed below are the available analytes and detection limits in parts per million (ppm).
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