Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 101–115 | Cite as

Carbon isotopes of marl and lake sediment organic matter reflect terrestrial landscape change during the late Glacial and early Holocene (16,800 to 5,540 cal yr B.P.): a multiproxy study of lacustrine sediments at Lough Inchiquin, western Ireland

  • Aaron F. DiefendorfEmail author
  • William P. Patterson
  • Chris Holmden
  • Henry T. Mullins
Original Paper


A 7.6-m lake sediment core from a marl lake, Lough Inchiquin, records variation in landscape evolution from 16,800 cal yrs B.P. to 5,540 cal yrs B.P. We observe significant variations (up to 12‰) in δ 13Corg and δ 13Ccalcite values that are interpreted to reflect secular changes in lake water δ 13CDIC values that result from a regional landscape transition from barren limestone bedrock to a forested ecosystem. Lake water δ 13CDIC values are therefore influenced by two isotopically distinct sources of carbon: terrestrial organic material (−27.1 to −31.2‰VPDB) via oxidized soil organic matter and weathered limestone bedrock (+3.4‰VPDB). Isotope excursions in lacustrine sediment records are forced not only by changes in productivity but also by changes in the terrestrial environment. This has profound implications for the interpretation of paleoclimate records derived from lacustrine sediment and suggests that selection of appropriate lakes can provide records of terrestrial change where other related records are not available.


Lake sediment Carbon cycle Paleovegetation Paleoecology Paleolimnology 



We thank NSERC for Grant #RGPIN261623-03, GSA Student Research Grants (#7372-03, #7646-04, and #7931-05), and the Keck Geology Consortium for financial support. We also thank Tim Prokopiuk and Bruce Eglington for laboratory and technical assistance, Emily Diefendorf and Bob Deegan for assistance in the field and sample preparation. We thank Adam Csank, Kristin Dietrich, Justin Dodd, Elise Dufour, Neil Tibert, and Antoine Zazzo for comments and technical discussions. Facilities and help provided in the field and laboratory by Michael O’Connell and Karen Molloy of the Palaeoenvironmental Research Unit, Department of Botany, NUI, Galway, and are also gratefully acknowledged. Anna Martini and the Keck Consortium Ireland 2002 Scholars provided additional field assistance. Comments from Kevin Keatings and anonymous reviewers helped to improve earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron F. Diefendorf
    • 1
    Email author
  • William P. Patterson
    • 2
  • Chris Holmden
    • 2
  • Henry T. Mullins
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological Sciences, Saskatchewan Isotope LaboratoryUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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