Distribution of organic carbon and nitrogen in surface soils in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
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The organic carbon and nitrogen contents of sediments in the upper 2 cm of the soils surrounding several lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys were measured in a relatively high-density sampling grid, in order to better understand the present-day distribution of organic matter in the ecosystem that is most readily transportable via aeolean processes. Carbon and nitrogen contents of the bulk sediments and size-differentiated sediments decreased in a series according to lake basins oriented along the Taylor Valley's main axis (Lake Fryxell > Hoare ≥ west lobe Bonney ≥ east lobe Bonney). Samples were also obtained around Lake Vida and showed this basin to contain less organic matter than those in the Taylor Valley. This regional spatial analysis supports the emerging view that each basin provides distinct environments for in situ microbial activity, lithogenic weathering, aeolian deposition and sorting that can be detected through synoptic sampling.
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