, Volume 64, Issue 7, pp 1951-1963
Date: 23 Mar 2011

Environmental evolution recorded by lipid biomarkers from the Tawan loess–paleosol sequences on the west Chinese Loess Plateau during the late Pleistocene

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This study provides a reconstruction of the environmental evolution since 128 ka recorded by the lipid biomarkers of the C15–C35 n-alkanes, the C13–C33 n-alkan-2-ones and the C12–C30 n-alkanols isolated from the Tawan loess section, Northwest China. Variations in paleoenvironment are reconstructed from the values of the carbon preference index (CPI), the average chain length (ACL), the L/H (ratio of lower-molecular-weight to higher-molecular-weight homologues), the n-alkane C27/C31 ratios, and the n-alkan-2-one C27/C31 ratio. These parameters indicate the dominance of grasses over the west Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP) during the late Pleistocene. Lower values of the CPI and the ACL values, respectively, indicate stronger microbial reworking of organic matter and changes in plant species, which are both indicative of a warmer-wetter environment. Furthermore, the fluctuations of environment recorded in the Tawan section exhibit ten phases that show obvious cycles between warm periods and cold intervals. This study reveals that changes in the biomarker proxies agree well with changes in the magnetic susceptibility and grain size, and it indicates a huge potential for paleoenvironmental reconstructions by using the n-alkan-2-one and n-alkanol proxies.