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The biohopanoid soil proxy: Recent developments and future directions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Talbot, Dr Martin Cooke, Dr Luke Handley, Professor Thomas Wagner


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The growing need to understand carbon dynamics and reactions involving organic matter at the land-ocean interface has lead to the development of new proxies such as the BIT index [1] in order to allow the contribution of terrestrial organic matter to the marine sedimentary environment to be estimated. We have recently proposed a new approach based on the analysis of bacterially derived biohopanoids (BHPs) in a range of terrestrial materials (soils, peat) and aquatic sediments [e.g. 2, 3]. We identified a group of compounds related to adenosylhopane [3] which are abundant components in soils but generally scarce or absent in lacustrine sediments. Further investigations have shown that these compounds are ubiquitous in soils from around the globe and comprise a mean average of 28% of the total biohopanoid pool [4] in all samples analysed to date. Conversely they were found to be absent in many lacustrine systems and open marine sediments [2]. We subsequently proposed that the relative contribution of this group of compounds to the sedimentary BHP pool could be used as a proxy for terrestrial organic matter input [4]. Here we will present a summary of new developments in our knowledge and understanding of the occurrence and significance of these compounds, both in terrestrial source material and in riverine, estuarine, deltaic and some coastal marine sediments. We will then consider the fate of these molecules in the marine system and discuss some of the major outstanding questions driving the future directions of this research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Talbot HM, Cooke MP, Handley L, Wagner T

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 19th Annual VM Goldschmidt Conference

Year of Conference: 2009

Pages: A1308

ISSN: 0016-7037

Publisher: Pergamon

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 18729533