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A new approach to detecting vegetation and land-use Change using high-resolution lipid biomarker records in stalagmites

  • Alison J. Blyth (a1), Asfawossen Asrat (a2), Andy Baker (a3), Pauline Gulliver (a4), Melanie J. Leng (a5) (a6) and Dominique Genty (a7)...

A hundred-year stalagmite lipid biomarker record from Mechara, southeastern Ethiopia, is presented. The record has been recovered at a 10-yr temporal resolution, marking the first time this has been achieved in stalagmite biomarker work and providing the first opportunity to investigate the relationship between stalagmite lipid records and hydrological transport lags, a vital issue in interpreting palaeoenvironmental signals. Preserved plant-derived n-alkanes and n-alkanols show clear changes in composition over time, relating to known land-use changes in the area, particularly the expansion of agriculture in the early twentieth century. The level of environmental detail provided by this technique, combined with the long-term chronological framework offered by stalagmites, holds significant promise for the investigation of early human environments and their associated climatic and anthropogenic controls.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author. Present address: The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3ER, UK. Fax: +44 1223 333536. E-mail address: (A.J. Blyth).
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