Organic matter sources and early diagenetic degradation in a tropical peaty marsh (Tritrivakely, Madagascar). Implications for environmental reconstruction during the Sub-Atlantic

Abstract : Peat samples from a one metre core and living Cyperaceae, collected in Tritrivakely marsh in Madagascar, were studied to determine the organic matter (OM) composition and extent of OM degradation in this core. The study was carried out combining light microscopy observations, bulk analyses, infra-red spectroscopy, hydrolyses of sugars, oxidation of lignin and pyrolyses. In the surface peat, organic matter derived from Cyperaceae undergoes extensive degradation of its basic cell wall components, morphologically revealed by destructuration of plant tissues and their transformation into reddish amorphous organic matter occurring in large amounts all along the core. Two ratios (cinnamic units/lignin and xylose+arabinose/total sugars) were determined as markers of Cyperaceae. It appeared that the vegetation of the marsh remained probably unchanged during the considered accumulation period, i.e. the last 2300 years B.P. Rhamnose, mannose and non-cellulosic glucose probably have a common origin and are mostly derived from bacteria. In contrast, galactose is likely to be a marker of algal source, especially of the diatoms that occur only in the upper part of the core (0-ca. 50 cm). Acid/aldehyde ratios of syringic and vanillic monomers (index of lignin oxidative depolymerisation) and mannose+rhamnose+non-cellulosic glucose/total sugars ratios (reflecting bacterial degradation of hemicelluloses) are positively correlated, and can thus be considered as markers of microbial degradation of the Cyperaceae tissues. The n-alkane/n-alk-1-ene doublets that dominate the pyrolysates of hydrolysed peat samples reflect the contribution of B. braunii algaenan and higher plant suberans, and of condensed lipids mostly derived from higher plants and microalgae. The upper part of the core is characterised by a greater dilution of Cyperaceae-derived compounds by organic matter from microalgae when compared with deeper samples, as recorded by peat bulk features, hydrolysable sugars, lignin oxidation products and pyrolysis products. Two accumulation periods can thus be distinguished in the core: a peaty phase between 2300 years B.P. and ca. 1500 years B.P. (low watertable and strongly limited microalgal growth); a waterlogged marsh, from ca. 1500 years B.P. to the present time, in which a higher water table was longer lasting with a substantial algal production. The environmental variation thus recorded could correspond to a regional climatic change occurring around 1500 years B.P.
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Sonia Bourdon, Fatima Laggoun-Défarge, Ousmane Maman, Jean-Robert Disnar, Bernard Guillet, et al.. Organic matter sources and early diagenetic degradation in a tropical peaty marsh (Tritrivakely, Madagascar). Implications for environmental reconstruction during the Sub-Atlantic. Organic Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2000, 31, pp.421-438. ⟨10.1016/S0146-6380(00)00010-3⟩. ⟨hal-00091221⟩

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