Mineralogical Variation in Shells of the Blackfoot Abalone, Haliotis iris (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Haliotidae), in Southern New Zealand

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2004-01
Authors
Gray, Blair E.
Smith, Abigail M.
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University of Hawai'i Press
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The New Zealand blackfoot abalone, Haliotis iris Gmelin, is among the few gastropods that precipitate both calcite and aragonite in their shells. The location, composition, and thickness of these mineral layers may affect color, luster, and strength of the shell, which is locally important in jewelry manufacture. Skeletal mineralogy and shell structure of H. iris from three southern New Zealand locations were determined using X-ray diffractometry, scanning electron micrography, and mineral staining. In H. iris an outer calcitic layer is separated from an inner aragonitic surface by both calcified and noncalcified organic layers running longitudinally through the shell. Skeletal mineralogy within individual shells varies from 29 to 98% aragonite, with older shell having significantly higher aragonite content than young sections. Variation within populations ranges from 40 to 98% aragonite, and among three populations from 34 to 98% aragonite. Shell thickness, too, varies within individual shells from 0.2 to 4.2 mm, with a significant positive relationship with age. Within population variation in shell thickness ranges from 2.1 to 5.4 mm, with no significant difference in shell thickness variation among populations. The high degree of variability within and among individual shells suggests that it is essential to test replicate samples from individual mollusk shells, especially when they have complex bimineral structure.
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Gray BE, Smith AM. 2004. Mineralogical variation in shells of the blackfoot abalone, Haliotis iris (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Haliotidae), in southern New Zealand. Pac Sci 58(1): 47-64.
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