An 11,000-Year Record of Depositional Environmental Change based upon Particulate Organic Matter and Stable Isotopes (C and N) in a Lake Sediment in Southeastern Brazil


The aim of this paper is to reconstruct an 11,000-year history of depositional environmental change in southeastern Brazil, based upon the integration of particulate organic matter and stable isotope (C and N) data from a 136-cm sediment core from Lake Canto Grande. These proxies are used to explore the evolution of terrestrial and marine influence on the lake. Isotopic (δ13C: −27.87‰ to −31.9‰; δ15N: −0.07‰–4.9‰) and elemental (total organic carbon - TOC: 0.58%–37.19%; total nitrogen - TN: 0.08%–1.73%; C/N: 0.3 to 54.7) values recorded in Lake Canto Grande suggest that the sedimentary organic matter was derived from mostly C3 land plants and freshwater phytoplankton. Particulate organic matter and cluster analyses distinguished four associations characterized by the predominance of amorphous organic matter, followed by phytoclasts and palynomorphs. These results indicate two different phases of lake evolution. The first phase (136 - 65 cm; ∼10,943 cal yr. B.P. to ∼8529 cal yr. B.P.) is recorded by sand layers interbedded with mud, which contain amorphous organic matter (AOM, 45–59%) and phytoclasts (opaques - OP: 6–18%; non-opaques – NOP: 17–23%) which indicate a floodplain area. The second phase (65–0 cm; ∼8529 cal yr. B.P. to ∼662 cal yr. B.P.) comprises mud, AOM (68–86%) and palynomorphs (PAL, 8–16%) related to lake establishment comparable to modern conditions. Thus, characterizing particulate organic matter, in combination with stable isotopes, proved to be invaluable proxies for lacustrine paleoenvironmental change through the Holocene.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


The authors thank the São Paulo Foundation for Research – FAPESP (grants 2010/52606-1 and 2011/00995-7 ) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - CNPq (grants 470210/2012-5 , 245572/2012-0 and 405060/2013-0 ) for financial support.

Keywords and Phrases

Holocene; Organic matter; Paleoenvironment; Palynofacies; Stable isotopes

Time Period


International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0895-9811; 1873-0647

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2018 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2018