Vargas-Ramirez Lourdes

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    Bulk organic geochemistry of sediments from Puyehue Lake and its watershed (Chile, 40°S) : implications for paleoenvironmental reconstructions
    ( 2009-03-04) Bertrand, Sebastien ; Sterken, Mieke ; Vargas-Ramirez, Lourdes ; De Batist, Marc ; Vyverman, Wim ; Lepoint, Gilles ; Fagel, Nathalie
    Since the last deglaciation, the mid-latitudes of the southern Hemisphere have undergone considerable environmental changes. In order to better understand the response of continental ecosystems to paleoclimate changes in southern South America, we investigated the sedimentary record of Puyehue Lake, located in the western piedmont of the Andes in south-central Chile (40°S). We analyzed the elemental (C, N) and stable isotopic (δ13C, δ15N) composition of the sedimentary organic matter preserved in the lake and its watershed to estimate the relative changes in the sources of sedimentary organic carbon through space and time. The geochemical signature of the aquatic and terrestrial end-members was determined on samples of lake particulate organic matter (N/C: 0.130) and Holocene paleosols (N/C: 0.069), respectively. A simple mixing equation based on the N/C ratio of these end-members was then used to estimate the fraction of terrestrial carbon (ƒT) preserved in the lake sediments. Our approach was validated using surface sediment samples, which show a strong relation between ƒT and distance to the main rivers and to the shore. We further applied this equation to an 11.22 m long sediment core to reconstruct paleoenvironmental changes in Puyehue Lake and its watershed during the last 17.9 kyr. Our data provide evidence for a first warming pulse at 17.3 cal kyr BP, which triggered a rapid increase in lake diatom productivity, lagging the start of a similar increase in sea surface temperature (SST) off Chile by 1500 years. This delay is best explained by the presence of a large glacier in the lake watershed, which delayed the response time of the terrestrial proxies and limited the concomitant expansion of the vegetation in the lake watershed (low ƒT). A second warming pulse at 12.8 cal kyr BP is inferred from an increase in lake productivity and a major expansion of the vegetation in the lake watershed, demonstrating that the Puyehue glacier had considerably retreated from the watershed. This second warming pulse is synchronous with a 2°C increase in SST off the coast of Chile, and its timing corresponds to the beginning of the Younger Dryas Chronozone. These results contribute to the mounting evidence that the climate in the mid-latitudes of the southern Hemisphere was warming during the Younger Dryas Chronozone, in agreement with the bipolar see-saw hypothesis.