Controls on the distributions of GDGTs and n-alkane isotopic compositions in sediments of the Amazon River Basin

Jens.Hefter [ at ]


ARTICLE INFO Keywords: Amazonia GDGT Amazon River Biomarkers Compound-specific isotopes N-Alkanes Paleoclimate proxies Plant waxes ABSTRACT Lipid biomarker proxies from terrigenous sediments have been extensively used to understand variations in paleoenvironmental conditions, but many of the mechanisms affecting these proxies during riverine transport are still poorly understood. Here, we analyze glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) distributions and n-alkane isotopic compositions of soils and sediments from the Amazon River Basin. Our dataset includes suspended sediments of the Amazon River and its main tributaries, as well as soils and sediments of the Xingu River, a large clearwater tributary draining the easternmost part of the Amazon River Basin. Our sampling design aimed at understanding the processes behind spatially distinct GDGT distributions and n-alkane isotopic signatures across lowland Amazonia. Gradual changes in the fractional abundances of isoprenoid GDGTs and in 5- and 6- methyl branched GDGT ratios in suspended sediments of the Amazon River towards its mouth suggest that riverine production is an increasingly important control on the distribution of GDGTs in the lower parts of the system, while values from the western parts are more in line with a dominant soil sourcing. In the Xingu River, indices based on the fractional abundances of branched GDGTs and long-chain n-alkanes demonstrate a strong contri- bution of terrestrial organic material during the high-water season and an important aquatic component during low-water season. Meanwhile, average stable carbon (δ13C) and hydrogen (δD) isotopic signatures of long-chain n-alkanes in soils, riverbed and suspended sediments of the Xingu River are similar and reinforce the relatively conservative behaviour of these proxies within large river systems. The average compound-specific δ13C signa- tures of sediments in the Xingu River are within the expected range for C3 vegetation and do not seem to capture the signals from the nearby deforested areas. n-Alkanes δD signals in the Xingu Basin are similar to values ob- tained in the Amazon River mouth and indicate that n-alkanes sourced from easternmost Amazonian lowlands may predominate over signals from western areas.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2022.120777

Cite as
Bertassoli Jr., D. J. , Häggi, C. , Chiessi, C. M. , Schefuß, E. , Hefter, J. , Akabane, T. K. and Sawakuchi, A. O. (2022): Controls on the distributions of GDGTs and n-alkane isotopic compositions in sediments of the Amazon River Basin , Chemical Geology, 594 , p. 120777 . doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2022.120777

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