Sci Total Environ 2019 Jul 1;672:657-668. Epub 2019 Apr 1.
Centro Universitário Regional Este, CURE-Rocha, Universidad de la República, Ruta 9 y Ruta 15 s/n, Uruguay; Programa de Pós-Graduação em Oceanografia Física, Química e Geológica, Instituto de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Av. Itália, km 8, Cx.P. 474, 96201-900 Rio Grande, RS, Brazil.
Lakes are important paleoenvironmental archives retaining abundant information due to their typical high sedimentation rates and susceptibility to environmental changes. Here, we scrutinize the organic matter (OM) composition, origin and preservation state in surface sediments from five lakes in a remote, warming-sensitive, and poorly explored region partially covered by the retreating Collins Glacier in King George Island (Antarctica), the Fildes Peninsula. Lipid biomarkers of terrestrial origin (i.e. high-molecular weight n-alkanes, n-alkanoic acids, and n-alkanols; β-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol) were detected in the five Fildes Lakes, with the smallest basin (i.e., Meltwater) showing a particularly strong moss imprint. Aquatic source indicators such as low C/N and terrestrial over aquatic ratios (TAR), or less negative δC values were preferentially found in the mid-sized lakes (i.e., Drake and Ionospheric). Sedimentary carbon in the larger lakes (i.e., Uruguay and Kitezh) displayed a largely biogenic origin (i.e., values of carbon preference index, CPI, ≫1), whereas the three lakes close to Collins Glacier (i.e., Drake, Meltwater, and Ionospheric) showed certain contribution from petrogenic sources (CPI ~ 1). The results suggest that the geochemical signature of the surface sediments in the five Fildes lakes is determined by factors such as the distance to the retreating Collins Glacier, the proximity to the coast, or the lake depth. This study illustrates the forensic interest of combining lipid biomarkers, compound-specific isotopic analysis, and bulk geochemistry to reconstruct paleoenvironments and study climate-sensitive regions.