to

PhD Dissertation: The impact of diagenesis and sequestration on long-chain diols and derived marine proxies

The current global warming and climate change is widely discussed in science, politics and media. To predict climate development in the future, we depend on climate models that are validated and tested by application of climate proxies, fossil remains which provide information about past climate conditions. Recently, specific compounds called long-chain alkyl diols (diols), which have been shown to occur in ancient sediments, have been found to indicate sea surface temperatures, revealing important paleoclimate information. However, many uncertainties remain with their application as organic compounds can be severely degraded in the marine environment. The focus of this thesis was therefore to assess potential errors in sea surface temperature reconstruction that may arise when these diols are deposited in marine environments. 

Large amounts of diol-producing algal biomass were degraded for more than 8 months in the laboratory, which surprisingly led to a large release of diols, likely originating from biopolymers, in which diols represent the building blocks. However, the ratio of diols used to reconstruct sea surface temperatures was not substantially impacted. In contrast, changes in this ratio were observed when diols were studied in marine sediments deposited under contrasting oxygen concentrations. These results therefore point to potential errors in sea surface temperature reconstructions, that have to be taken into account when applying climate proxies based on diols.

Start date and time
End date and time
PhD candidate
Sophie Reiche
Dissertation
The impact of diagenesis and sequestration on long-chain diols and derived marine proxies
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. Dr. S. Schouten
Prof. Dr. J.S. Sinnighe Damste