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Lipid biomarkers in surface sediments from the Gulf of Genoa, Ligurian sea (NW Mediterranean sea) and their potential for the reconstruction of palaeo-environments

May 28, 2014

A series of molecular organic markers were determined in surface sediments from the Gulf of Genoa (Ligurian Sea) in order to evaluate their potential for palaeo-environmental reconstructions. Allochthonous input can be characterized by the distributions of n-C29 and n-C31 alkanes, n-C26 and n-C28 alkanols and branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs), whose concentrations are generally highest near the river mouths. In the open basin however,  terrestrial n-alkanes and n-alkanols may have an additional, eolian source. Autochthonous input is represented by crenarchaeol and isoprenoid GDGTs. Their concentrations are highest in the open basin showing the preference of Thaumarchaeota for oligotrophic waters. Indications of a significant degradation of sterols and C37 alkenones exclude these lipids as reliable productivity proxies. Using terrestrial and aquatic lipids as end-members allows estimating the percentage of terrestrial organic matter between 20% and 58% in the coastal area decreasing to 1–30% in the deep basin. The spatial distribution of sea surface temperature (SST) estimates using the alkenone-based UK′37index is very similar to the autumnal (November) mean satellite-based SST distribution. Conversely, TEXH86-derived SST estimates are close to winter SSTs in the coastal area and summer SSTs in the open basin. This pattern reflects presumably a shift in the main production of Thaumarchaeota from the coastal area in winter to the open basin in summer. This study represents a major prerequisite for the future application of lipid biomarkers on sediment cores from the Gulf of Genoa.

Kaiser J,  Ruggieri N, Hefter J, Siegel H, Mollenhauer G, Arz HW, Lamy F, 2014: Lipid biomarkers in surface sediments from the Gulf of Genoa, Ligurian sea (NW Mediterranean sea) and their potential for the reconstruction of palaeo-environments, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 89, 68-83, doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2014.04.009. Article (subscription required).

 

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