Marine Biology / Micropaleontology
The Coccolithus series is based on the complicated structures of coccolithophores, specifically Coccolithus pelagicus. The shell of this unicellular phytoplankton is composed of interlocking plates, called coccoliths, composed of calcium carbonate. Occasionally, huge increases in coccolithophore populations, called ‘coccolithophore blooms’ are evident as massive patches of turquoise color in the ocean that can be seen in satellite photos of the earth. Although blooms appear to be happening more frequently with global warming, the carbon fixation by coccolithophores could potentially reduce carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and therefore counteract the effects of global warming. Coccolithophores are an important marker fossil in biostratigraphy, a technique used to date deep ocean sediments.