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Late-Holocene palaeoenvironmental changes at Lake Esmeralda (Vega Island, Antarctic Peninsula) based on a multi-proxy analysis of laminated lake sediment.
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
We have studied laminated sediments from Lake Esmeralda, Vega Island, in order to reconstruct its history. We describe both inorganic and organic components of the sediment using a combination of the following analytical methods: x-ray fluorescence (XRF), x-ray diffraction (XRD), magnetic susceptibility measurement, chemical analysis for determination of cation exchange capacity, grain size determination, geochemical analyses (total inorganic carbon (TIC), total organic carbon (TOC), total sulphur (TS)), spectrophotometry, high-pressure liquid chromatography, and diatom assemblage and faunal remains characterization. The geochronology of the core was based on modelling optically stimulated luminescence ages and supported by laminae counting. The dating results imply a maximum age of ~400 years for the 177-cm long core and a period covered of ~200 years, suggesting (quasi-)annual laminae formation. Such a young age contradicts previous findings based on radiocarbon dating. Geomorphological evidence indicates that river capture isolated the lake catchment from upslope sediment delivery, effectively terminating accumulation ~230 years ago. Conversely, our short-term palaeoenvironmental record yields a subdecadal temporal resolution, which is unparalleled in comparison with other Antarctic palaeolimnological studies. Our interpretations of the geochemical and mineralogical proxy data give us insight into the past lake catchment and waterbody evolution, and lead us to recognize periods of enhanced weathering, bottom anoxia and to distinguish major lake level changes.