Articles | Volume 11, issue 19
Research article
09 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 09 Oct 2014

Provenance of tetraether membrane lipids in a large temperate lake (Loch Lomond, UK): implications for glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT)-based palaeothermometry

L. K. Buckles, J. W. H. Weijers, X.-M. Tran, S. Waldron, and J. S. Sinninghe Damsté

Abstract. The application of glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT)-based palaeoenvironmental proxies, such as the branched vs. isoprenoidal tetratether (BIT) index, TEX86 and the MBT–CBT palaeothermometer, has lately been expanded to lacustrine sediments. Given recent research identifying the production of branched, bacterial GDGTs (brGDGTs) within lakes, it is necessary to ascertain the effect of this lacustrine production on GDGT-based proxies. This study profiles a temperate, monomictic lake (Loch Lomond, UK), analysing labile intact polar GDGT lipids (IPLs) and resilient core GDGT lipids (CLs) in catchment soils, small tributary rivers, lake water and lake sediments.

Loch Lomond consists of two basins bisected by the Highland Boundary Fault, resulting in a mesotrophic to oligotrophic gradient from south to north. The north basin is fjord-like, while the south basin is shallow with a lowland catchment. Besides abundant influxes of allochthonous soil- and peat-derived (CL) brGDGTs, brGDGTs are produced in a variety of settings in Loch Lomond. Rather than integrating a scattered soil signal, there is some evidence that small rivers may contribute to the brGDGT pool through addition of brGDGTs produced in situ in these streams. Three hundred days of settling particles and water column profiles of suspended particulate matter (SPM; March and September 2011) reveal brGDGT production throughout the water column, with (IPL and CL) brGDGT distributions varying by basin. In lake sediments, in situ brGDGT production affects the distributions of sedimentary brGDGTs despite high soil- and peat-derived organic matter influxes from the catchment.

MBT–CBT-derived mean annual air temperature (MAAT) estimates from soil, river and lake sediments vary widely. A strong bias towards higher MAATs in the south and lower MAATs in the north basin further complicates the application of the proxy. These results emphasise that caution must be exercised when applying the MBT–CBT palaeothermometer to individual lakes in which the use of the proxy has not been validated and therefore the factors affecting its application are not well understood. Despite elevated BIT indices, (partly) due to in situ brGDGT production, reliable TEX86 lake surface temperature (LST) estimates were obtained from SPM with BIT indices up to 0.9. Lower north basin sediments yielded accurate LST estimates but require further evaluation to properly constrain the application of the TEX86 proxy.

Final-revised paper