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Bulk organic δ13C and C/N ratios as palaeosalinity indicators within a Scottish isolation basin

By Elizabeth A.V. Mackie, Melanie J. Leng, Jeremy M. Lloyd and Carol Arrowsmith


Microfossils in isolation basin sediments are frequently used to reconstruct sea-level change, but preservation problems and non-analogue situations can limit their usefulness. Here we investigate the potential of stable carbon isotopes (δ13C) and C/N ratios from bulk organic matter, as an alternative proxy of salinity within isolation basin sediments from a basin in northwest Scotland. Within the Holocene sediment δ13C and C/N are determined largely by the mean weighted values of the predominant source of the organic material. Analysis of modern materials and comparison with the diatom record shows that the marine parts of the sequence are dominated by high δ13C and variable C/N. In the fresh water sequences the organic material is a mixture of both freshwater aquatic and terrestrial plant input that have relatively low δ13C and high C/N. The application of δ13C and C/N ratios in the studied basin in general follow the environmental change recorded by the diatoms and shows the potential of bulk organic matter in the investigation of salinity change in isolation basins

Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1002/jqs.919
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