, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 55–63 | Cite as

Paleoenvironmental changes in northwest Mongolia during the last 27 kyr inferred from organic components in the Lake Hovsgol sediment core record

  • Genki I. MatsumotoEmail author
  • Ryoko Kanou
  • Chika Sato
  • Kazuho Horiuchi
  • Takayoshi Kawai
Research paper


We studied organic components in the X106 sediment core (length 130.3 cm, water depth 236 m, 50°53′01″N, 100°21′22″E) from Lake Hovsgol to elucidate the biological production, source of organic components, and paleoenvironmental and paleolimnological changes during the last 27 kyr in northwest Mongolia. Total organic carbon (TOC) contents (0.20–0.70%) in the core of the last glacial period increased dramatically and attained 3.16–5.85% in the postglacial period (Holocene), together with the increase of the contribution of terrestrial organic matter. Biological production (both terrestrial and aquatic production) based on the TOC contents in the Holocene was 14 times higher than that in the last glacial period. The Bølling-Allerød warm period and Younger Dryas cool period were both observed at depths of 55–50 cm (ca. 15–13 cal kyr BP) and 50–45 cm (ca. 13–11 cal kyr BP), respectively. We propose here a terrestrial/aquatic index (TAI) for organic matter in lake sediments. The TAI values suggest that terrestrial organic matter in the bottom of the core was less than 10%, increased to 48% in the Bølling-Allerød warm period, decreased abruptly to 20% in the Younger Dryas cool period, and again increased to 30–40% in the Holocene. Normal-C31 alkane (a biomarker of herbaceous land plants) and n-C18 alkanoic acid (marker of plankton) decreased from the last glacial period to the Holocene, whereas n-C23 alkane and n-C22 alkanoic acid (a marker of higher vascular plants) increased from the last glacial period to the Holocene. Scarce herbaceous plant vegetation, such as Artemisia spp. of the lake basin in the last glacial period, changed into an abundance of higher woody plant vegetation (e.g., Pinus spp., Betula spp. and/or Larix spp.) in the Holocene. Stanol/sterol ratios suggest that relatively high oxygen tension of the lake bottom in ca. 27–22 cal kyr BP decreased from this age to the present, though benthic organisms are still abundant.


Lake Hovsgol Sediment core Organic components Paleoenvironmental change Paleolimnological change 



We acknowledge the Russian, Mongolian and Japanese scientific party, and the captain and crew of the R/V Debowsky for the X106 sediment core sampling in Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia. We appreciate the anonymous reviewers and the Editor-in-Chief for their critical reviewing and useful comments. We thank Professor T. Wright of Otsuma Women’s University for the English editing. This work was partly supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (16310012) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for GIM.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Genki I. Matsumoto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ryoko Kanou
    • 1
  • Chika Sato
    • 1
  • Kazuho Horiuchi
    • 2
  • Takayoshi Kawai
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Studies, School of Social Information StudiesOtsuma Women’s UniversityTamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and TechnologyHirosaki UniversityHirosakiJapan
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Environmental StudiesNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  4. 4.Association of International Research Initiative for Environmental StudiesTokyoJapan

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