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Evidence for carbon cycling in a large freshwater lake in the Balkans over the last 0.5 million years using the isotopic composition of bulk organic matter

Zanchetta, Giovanni; Baneschi, Ilaria; Francke, Alexander; Boschi, Chiara; Regattieri, Eleonora; Wagner, Bernd; Lacey, Jack H.; Leng, Melanie J.; Vogel, Hendrik; Sadori, Laura


Giovanni Zanchetta

Ilaria Baneschi

Alexander Francke

Chiara Boschi

Eleonora Regattieri

Bernd Wagner

Jack H. Lacey

Hendrik Vogel

Laura Sadori


© 2018 Elsevier Ltd In the DEEP core from the Lake Ohrid ICDP drilling project, the carbon isotope composition of bulk organic matter (δ 13 C TOC ) over the last 516 ka shows a negative correlation with total organic carbon (TOC) and total inorganic carbon (TIC). This relationship is marked by periods of lower δ 13 C TOC values corresponding to higher TIC and TOC. Along with TOC/TN, the correlation between δ 13 C TOC and δ 13 C TIC suggests that most of the organic matter in the core is from aquatic primary production within the lake. The combination of TOC, TIC, and δ 13 C TOC is able to disentangle long-term glacial/interglacial cycles and, to a lesser extent, millennial scale climate variability. Over the longer term, δ 13 C TOC shows modest variability, indicating that the δ 13 C of the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool is stabilised by the supply of karst spring water characterised by δ 13 C DIC influenced by the bedrock δ 13 C value, and the long residence time of the lake water and well mixed upper water column promoting equilibration with atmospheric CO 2 . However, comparison between arboreal pollen (AP%), TIC and TOC data indicates that the δ 13 C TOC signal is modulated by the leaching of soil CO 2 through runoff and spring discharge, changes in primary productivity, and recycling of organic matter within the lake, all affecting δ 13 C DIC . Exceptionally low δ 13 C TOC during some interglacial periods (e.g. MIS7 and MIS9) possibly indicate rapid intensification of organic matter recycling and/or increasing stratification and enhanced methanogenesis, even if the latter process is not supported by the sedimentological data.


Zanchetta, G., Baneschi, I., Francke, A., Boschi, C., Regattieri, E., Wagner, B., …Sadori, L. (2018). Evidence for carbon cycling in a large freshwater lake in the Balkans over the last 0.5 million years using the isotopic composition of bulk organic matter. Quaternary Science Reviews, 202, 154-165.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 14, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 22, 2018
Publication Date Dec 15, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 25, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 23, 2019
Journal Quaternary Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0277-3791
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 202
Pages 154-165
Keywords Pleistocene; Paleolimnology; Europe; Stable isotopes; Organic matter; Lake Ohrid
Public URL
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