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Biomarkers and inorganic proxies in the paleoenvironmental reconstruction of mires: The importance of landscape in Las Conchas (Asturias, Northern Spain)

AuthorsOrtiz, José E.; Gómez Borrego, Ángeles ; Gallego, José L. R.; Sánchez-Palencia, Yolanda; Urbanczyk, Justyna; Torres, Trinidad; Domingo, Laura; Estébanez, Belén
Northern Spain
Issue Date2-Mar-2016
CitationOrganic Geochemistry 95: 41-54 (2016)
AbstractWe determined the lipid distributions (n-alkanes, n-alkan-2-ones, n-alkanoic acids), total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), Ca/Mg and ash content in Las Conchas mire, a 3.2 m deep bryophyte-dominated mire in Northern Spain covering 8000 cal yr BP. Bog conditions developed in the bottom 20 cm of the profile, and good preservation of organic matter (OM) was inferred from n-alkanoic acid distribution, with the exception of the uppermost 20 cm (last ca. 200 yr). Microbial synthesis of long chain saturated fatty acids from primary OM likely produced a dominance of short chain n-alkanoic acids with a bimodal distribution, as well as the lack of correspondence between the n-alkane and n-alkanoic acid profiles in the upper 20 cm. This was accompanied by an increase in ash content, a decrease in TOC and variation in n-alkane ratios, thereby suggesting significant changes in the mire, namely drainage and transformation to a meadow, in the last ca. 200 yr. The distribution of n-alkan-2-ones indicated an increase in bacterial source from the bottom of the record to 94 cm, whereas their distribution in the upper part could be attributed mainly to plant input and/or the microbial oxidation of n-alkanes. The different n-alkane proxies showed variations, which we interpreted in terms of changes in vegetation (Sphagnum vs. non-Sphagnum dominated phases) during the last 8000 cal yr BP. C23 was the most abundant homolog throughout most of the record, thereby suggesting dominant humid conditions alternating with short drier phases. However, such humid conditions were not linked to paleoclimatic variation but rather to geomorphological characteristics: Las Conchas mire, at the base of the Cuera Range, receives continuous runoff—even during drier periods—which is not necessarily accompanied by additional mineral input to peat, producing the development of Sphagnum moss typical of waterlogged ecotopes and damp habitats. Thus, although geochemical proxies indicated an ombrotrophic regime in the mire, geomorphological characteristics may make a considerable contribution to environmental conditions.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2016.02.009
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