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Uncoupled organic matter burial and quality in boreal lake sediments over the Holocene

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Niggemann,  Jutta
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Dittmar,  Thorsten
Marine Geochemistry Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Chmiel, H. E., Niggemann, J., Kokic, J., Ferland, M.-È., Dittmar, T., & Sobek, S. (2015). Uncoupled organic matter burial and quality in boreal lake sediments over the Holocene. Biogeosciences, 120: 1, pp. 1751-1763.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C3EC-9
Abstract
Boreal lake sediments are important sites of organic carbon (OC) storage, which have accumulated substantial amounts of OC over the Holocene epoch; the temporal evolution and the strength of this Holocene carbon (C) sink is, however, not well constrained. In this study we investigated the temporal record of carbon mass accumulation rates (CMARs) and assessed qualitative changes of terrestrially derived OC in the sediment profiles of seven Swedish boreal lakes, in order to evaluate the variability of boreal lake sediments as a C sink over time. CMARs were resolved on a short-term (centennial) and long-term (i.e., over millennia of the Holocene) timescale, using radioactive lead (210Pb) and carbon (14C) isotope dating. Sources and degradation state of terrestrially derived OC were identified and characterized by molecular analyses of lignin phenols. We found that CMARs varied substantially on both short-term and long-term scales and that the variability was mostly attributed to sedimentation rates and uncoupled from the OC content in the sediment profiles. The lignin phenol analyses revealed that woody material from gymnosperms was a dominant and constant OC source to the sediments over the Holocene. Furthermore, lignin-based degradation indices, such as acid-to-aldehyde ratios, indicated that postdepositional degradation in the sediments was very limited on longer timescales, implying that terrestrial OC is stabilized in the sediments on a permanent basis.