Drenzek Nicholas J.

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Nicholas J.

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  • Preprint
    Late Holocene sea-surface temperature and precipitation variability in northern Patagonia, Chile (Jacaf Fjord, 44°S)
    ( 2009-06-12) Sepulveda, Julio ; Pantoja, Silvio ; Hughen, Konrad A. ; Bertrand, Sebastien ; Figueroa, Dante ; Leon, Tania ; Drenzek, Nicholas J. ; Lange, Carina B.
    A high-resolution multi-proxy study including the elemental and isotopic composition of bulk organic matter, land plant-derived biomarkers, and alkenone-based sea surface temperature (SST) from a marine sedimentary record obtained from the Jacaf Fjord in northern Chilean Patagonia (~ 44°20'S) provided a detailed reconstruction of continental runoff, precipitation, and summer SST spanning the last 1750 years. We observed two different regimes of climate variability in our record: a relatively dry/warm period before 900 cal yr BP (lower runoff and average SST 1°C warmer than present-day) and a wet/cold period after 750 cal yr BP (higher runoff and average SST 1°C colder than present-day). Relatively colder SSTs were found during 750-600 and 450-250 cal yr BP, where the latter period roughly corresponds to the interval defined for the Little Ice Age (LIA). Similar climatic swings have been observed previously in continental and marine archives of the last two millennia from central and southern Chile, suggesting a strong latitudinal sensitivity to changes in the Southern Westerly Winds, the main source of precipitation in southern Chile, and validating the regional nature of the LIA. Our results reveal the importance of the Chilean fjord system for recording climate changes of regional and global significance.
  • Thesis
    The temporal dynamics of terrestrial organic matter transfer to the oceans : initial assessment and application
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2007-06) Drenzek, Nicholas J.
    This thesis employs compound-specific stable carbon and radiocarbon isotopic analysis of organic biomarkers to (a) resolve petrogenic from pre-aged vascular plant organic carbon (OC) in continental margin sediments, (b) investigate the underlying mechanisms controlling the anomalously old ages that are often observed for the terrestrial component of sedimentary OC, and (c) address the associated consequences for biomarker-based climate reconstructions. In Chapters 2 and 3, coupled molecular isotope mass balances demonstrate that the amount of petrogenic OC residing on the Beaufort Shelf (Arctic Ocean) and the Eel River Margin (coastal California) has been previously overestimated due to the presence of significantly ‘pre-aged’ terrestrial OC. However, even though the contribution of organic matter emanating from sedimentary rocks may be smaller, these results reinforce the emerging notion that it is not completely oxidized during weathering and subsequent seaward transport. In Chapter 4, comparison of the down-core radiocarbon profiles for certain vascular plant biomarkers extracted from Cariaco Basin (Caribbean Sea) and Saanich Inlet (coastal British Columbia) sediments with the radiocarbon evolution of atmospheric carbon dioxide reveals that the vast majority of the terrestrial OC experiences multi-millennial residence times on land prior to entering the sea. Most of the remaining inventory is deposited in sediments within one or two decades, providing direct evidence that very little terrestrial organic matter is rapidly transferred to the marine environment. With this in mind, the striking modulation in the signal amplitude of a biomarker-based tropical paleoaridity record presented in Chapter 5 was instead used to evaluate the role of low versus high latitude forcing in abrupt paleoclimate oscillations during the last full glacial cycle. Seasonal variations in the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone were interpreted to be a response to both high latitude adjustments in meridional overturning circulation and precessionally-driven modifications in local insolation. Finally, Chapter 6 addresses the broader implications of multi-millennial terrestrial residence times for paleoclimate records based on vascular plant biomarkers.
  • Article
    Microbial diversity and methanogenic activity of Antrim Shale formation waters from recently fractured wells
    (Frontiers Media, 2013-12-06) Wuchter, Cornelia ; Banning, Erin C. ; Mincer, Tracy J. ; Drenzek, Nicholas J. ; Coolen, Marco J. L.
    The Antrim Shale in the Michigan Basin is one of the most productive shale gas formations in the U.S., but optimal resource recovery strategies must rely on a thorough understanding of the complex biogeochemical, microbial, and physical interdependencies in this and similar systems. We used Illumina MiSeq 16S rDNA sequencing to analyze the diversity and relative abundance of prokaryotic communities present in Antrim shale formation water of three closely spaced recently fractured gas-producing wells. In addition, the well waters were incubated with a suite of fermentative and methanogenic substrates in an effort to stimulate microbial methane generation. The three wells exhibited substantial differences in their community structure that may arise from their different drilling and fracturing histories. Bacterial sequences greatly outnumbered those of archaea and shared highest similarity to previously described cultures of mesophiles and moderate halophiles within the Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and δ- and ε-Proteobacteria. The majority of archaeal sequences shared highest sequence similarity to uncultured euryarchaeotal environmental clones. Some sequences closely related to cultured methylotrophic and hydrogenotrophic methanogens were also present in the initial well water. Incubation with methanol and trimethylamine stimulated methylotrophic methanogens and resulted in the largest increase in methane production in the formation waters, while fermentation triggered by the addition of yeast extract and formate indirectly stimulated hydrogenotrophic methanogens. The addition of sterile powdered shale as a complex natural substrate stimulated the rate of methane production without affecting total methane yields. Depletion of methane indicative of anaerobic methane oxidation (AMO) was observed over the course of incubation with some substrates. This process could constitute a substantial loss of methane in the shale formation.
  • Article
    Blank assessment for ultra-small radiocarbon samples : chemical extraction and separation versus AMS
    (Dept. of Geosciences, University of Arizona, 2010-08) Santos, Guaciara M. ; Southon, John R. ; Drenzek, Nicholas J. ; Ziolkowski, Lori A. ; Druffel, Ellen R. M. ; Xu, Xiaomei ; Zhang, Dachun ; Trumbore, Susan E. ; Eglinton, Timothy I. ; Hughen, Konrad A.
    The Keck Carbon Cycle AMS facility at the University of California, Irvine (KCCAMS/UCI) has developed protocols for analyzing radiocarbon in samples as small as ~0.001 mg of carbon (C). Mass-balance background corrections for modern and 14C-dead carbon contamination (MC and DC, respectively) can be assessed by measuring 14C-free and modern standards, respectively, using the same sample processing techniques that are applied to unknown samples. This approach can be validated by measuring secondary standards of similar size and 14C composition to the unknown samples. Ordinary sample processing (such as ABA or leaching pretreatment, combustion/graphitization, and handling) introduces MC contamination of ~0.6 ± 0.3 μg C, while DC is ~0.3 ± 0.15 μg C. Today, the laboratory routinely analyzes graphite samples as small as 0.015 mg C for external submissions and ≅0.001 mg C for internal research activities with a precision of ~1% for ~0.010 mg C. However, when analyzing ultra-small samples isolated by a series of complex chemical and chromatographic methods (such as individual compounds), integrated procedural blanks may be far larger and more variable than those associated with combustion/graphitization alone. In some instances, the mass ratio of these blanks to the compounds of interest may be so high that the reported 14C results are meaningless. Thus, the abundance and variability of both MC and DC contamination encountered during ultra-small sample analysis must be carefully and thoroughly evaluated. Four case studies are presented to illustrate how extraction chemistry blanks are determined.
  • Preprint
    Temporal deconvolution of vascular plant-derived fatty acids exported from terrestrial watersheds
    ( 2018-09) Vonk, Jorien E. ; Drenzek, Nicholas J. ; Hughen, Konrad A. ; Stanley, Rachel H. R. ; McIntyre, Cameron P. ; Montlucon, Daniel B. ; Giosan, Liviu ; Southon, John R. ; Santos, Guaciara M. ; Druffel, Ellen R. M. ; Andersson, August A. ; Sköld, Martin ; Eglinton, Timothy I.
    Relatively little is known about the amount of time that lapses between the photosynthetic fixation of carbon by vascular land plants and its incorporation into the marine sedimentary record, yet the dynamics of terrestrial carbon sequestration have important implications for the carbon cycle. Vascular plant carbon may encounter multiple potential intermediate storage pools and transport trajectories, and the age of vascular plant carbon accumulating in marine sediments will reflect these different predepositional histories. Here, we examine down-core 14C profiles of higher plant leaf waxderived fatty acids isolated from high fidelity sedimentary sequences spanning the socalled “bomb-spike”, and encompassing a ca. 60-degree latitudinal gradient from tropical (Cariaco Basin), temperate (Saanich Inlet), and polar (Mackenzie Delta) watersheds to constrain integrated vascular plant carbon storage/transport times (“residence times”). Using a modeling framework, we find that, in addition to a "young" (conditionally defined as < 50 y) carbon pool, an old pool of compounds comprises 49 to 78 % of the fractional contribution of organic carbon (OC) and exhibits variable ages reflective of the environmental setting. For the Mackenzie Delta sediments, we find a mean age of the old pool of 28 ky (±9.4, standard deviation), indicating extensive pre-aging in permafrost soils, whereas the old pools in Saanich Inlet and Cariaco Basin sediments are younger, 7.9 (±5.0) and 2.4 (±0.50) to 3.2 (±0.54) ky, respectively, indicating less protracted storage in terrestrial reservoirs. The "young" pool showed clear annual contributions for Saanich Inlet and Mackenzie Delta sediments (comprising 24% and 16% of this pool, respectively), likely reflecting episodic transport of OC from steep hillside slopes surrounding Saanich Inlet and annual spring flood deposition in the Mackenzie Delta, respectively. Contributions of 5-10 year old OC to the Cariaco Basin show a short delay of OC inflow, potentially related to transport time to the offshore basin. Modeling results also indicate that the Mackenzie Delta has an influx of young but decadal material (20-30 years of age), pointing to the presence of an intermediate reservoir. Overall, these results show that a significant fraction of vascular plant C undergoes pre-aging in terrestrial reservoirs prior to accumulation in deltaic and marine sediments. The age distribution, reflecting both storage and transport times, likely depends on landscape-specific factors such as local topography, hydrographic characteristics, and mean annual temperature of the catchment, all of which affect the degree of soil buildup and preservation. We show that catchment-specific carbon residence times across landscapes can vary by an order of magnitude, with important implications both for carbon cycle studies and for the interpretation of molecular terrestrial paleoclimate records preserved in sedimentary sequences.