Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers in lake sediments: Can they be used as temperature and pH proxies?

C.I. Blaga, G.J. Reichart, S. Schouten, A.F. Lotter, J.P. Werne, S. Kosten, N. Mazzeo, G. Lacerot, J.S.S. Damste

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A series of surface sediments from 82 lakes of variable water depth and size was analyzed for glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) in order to investigate the potential of the MBT/CBT (methylation ratio/cyclization ratio of branched tetraethers) as a continental palaeothermometer in lacustrine environments. Branched GDGTs dominated in most sediments, as indicated by the high branched vs. isoprenoid tetraether (BIT) values. We observed that CBT and MBT varied substantially. Mean annual air temperature (MAAT reconstructed) and pH values were calculated using the CBT and MBT values and the calibration from the global soil data set. The MBT/CBT inferred temperatures were considerably lower than measured values. Nevertheless, there was a significant correlation between MAAT reconstructed and MAAT observed on site, although there was still considerable scatter (r(2) 0.47). Lacustrine sediments integrate organic remains of organisms in a lake and its drainage basin, thereby offering a unique opportunity for calibrating MBT and CBT, as small scale variability is averaged out. Since the source of the branched GDGTs in the lake sediments is ambiguous, it is not clear whether only temperature and pH in the catchment area are the driving factors. Therefore, even in lake sediments with high concentrations of branched GDGTs the straightforward application of MBT/CBT as palaeoproxies may be difficult given the uncertainties regarding their source and origin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225-1234
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • terrestrial organic-matter
  • crenarchaeotal membrane-lipids
  • bit index
  • water temperatures
  • reconstruction
  • transport
  • palaeothermometer
  • distributions
  • assemblages
  • holocene


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