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Isotope sample preparation of diatoms for paleoenvironmental research

Swann, George E.A.; Snelling, Andrea

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Andrea Snelling


Alessandro Incarbona


Isotopes in diatoms are increasingly used in palaeoenvironmental studies in both lacustrine and marine settings, enabling the reconstruction of a range of variables including temperature, precipitation, salinity, glacial discharge, carbon dynamics and biogeochemical cycling. This protocol details an optimised methodology for extracting diatoms for isotope analysis from sediment samples, using a range of chemical and density separation techniques that minimise sample loss and avoids the need for expensive equipment. Whilst designed for the extraction of diatoms for oxygen, silicon and carbon isotope analysis, additional stages are outlined for the analysis of other isotopes that are of increasing interest to the palaeo community (e.g., boron and zinc). The protocol also includes procedures for assessing sample purity, to ensure that analysed samples produce robust palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Overall, the method aims to improve the quality of palaeoenvironmental research derived from isotopes in diatoms by maximising sample purity and the efficiency of the extraction process.


Swann, G. E., & Snelling, A. (2023). Isotope sample preparation of diatoms for paleoenvironmental research. PLoS ONE, 18(2), Article e0281511.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 25, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2023
Publication Date Feb 17, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 20, 2023
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Article Number e0281511
Keywords Multidisciplinary
Public URL
Publisher URL


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