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Molecular and isotopic stratigraphy in an ombrotrophic mire for paleoclimate reconstruction

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Darrel Maddy


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A 40 cm deep Sphagnum -dominated peat monolith from Bolton Fell Moss in Northern England was systematically investigated by lipid molecular stratigraphy and compound-specific δ13C and δD analysis using gas chromatography (GC), GC-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), GC-combustion-isotope ratio-MS (GC-C-IRMS) and GC-thermal conversion-IRMS (GC-TC-IRMS) techniques. 210Pb dating showed the monolith accumulated during the last ca. 220 yr, a period encompassing the second part of Little Ice Age. While the distributions of lipids, including n-alkan-1-ols, n-alkan-2-ones, wax esters, sterols, n-alkanoic acids, α,ω-alkandioic acids and ω-hydroxy acids, display relatively minor changes with depth, the cooler climate event was recorded in the concentrations of n-alkanes and organic carbon, CPI values of n-alkanes and n-alkanoic acids, and the ratio of 5-n-alkylresorcinols/sterols. Superimposed on the fossil fuel effect, the relatively cooler climate event was also recorded by δ13C values of individual hydrocarbons, especially the C23 n-alkane, a major compound in certain Sphagnum spp. The δD values of the C29 and C33 n-alkanes correlated mainly with plant composition and were relatively insensitive to climatic change. In contrast the C23 n-alkane displayed variation that correlated strongly with recorded temperature for the period represented by the monolith, agreeing with previously reported deuterium records in tree ring cellulose spanning the same period in Scotland, Germany and the USA, with more negative values occurring during the second part of Little Ice Age. These biomarker characteristics, including the compound-specific δ13C and δD records, provide a new set of proxies of climatic change, potentially independent of preserved macrofossils which will be of value in deeper sections of the bog where the documentary records of climate are unavailable and humification is well advanced. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Xie S, Nott C, Avsejs L, Maddy D, Chambers F, Evershed R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

Year: 2004

Volume: 68

Issue: 13

Pages: 2849-2862

Print publication date: 01/07/2004

ISSN (print): 0016-7037

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9533


DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2003.08.025


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