Abstract

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The aim of the FIRST project is to develop an automated prototype for the processing and analysis of calcareous microfossils. Most of recent discoveries on long term climate change mechanisms at global scale were based on the study of sedimentary archives (oceanic and continental), especially on calcareous microfossils building protists: foraminifera. These organisms, whose size spans 100µm to 1 mm, are cosmopolite, and secrete a unique carbonate shell, accumulating on oceanic floors. The geochemical composition of these shells, the faunal assemblages, the size and mass of foraminifera are environmental and biostratigraphic indicators used daily by a worldwide scientific community. Those shells yield some insights on many critical parameters used to quantify the anthropogenic impact on natural systems, and on the climate: sea surface temperature (SST), the hydrologic structure therefore oceanic heat content, and salinity. The study of faunal and geochemical composition of foraminifera is thus a unique way to quantify past climatic variability during the last thousand years.