Aliphatic and aromatic biomarkers from Carboniferous coal deposits at Dunbar (East Lothian, Scotland): Palaeobotanical and palaeoenvironmental significance

Abstract : Carboniferous (Viséan) coals from Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, contain well-preserved miospore and megaspore assemblages suggesting a lycopod-dominated forest ecosystem with some ferns, sphenopsids and pteridosperms. The low rank of the coals and the well defined microflora permit assessment of the palaeoenvironmental significance of lipid biomarkers during the Early Carboniferous. Rock-Eval, petrographic, and lipid analyses indicate a fully terrestrial depositional environment. Although we also present and discuss a wide diversity of other lipid biomarkers (alkanes, hopanoids, steroids), we focus on the terrestrial-derived biomarkers. Combustion-derived PAHs pyrene, fluoranthene, benzo[a]anthracene, chrysene and triphenylene indicate the occurrence of forest fires in the study areas during Early Carboniferous times. Alkyldibenzofurans are considered to derive from lichen-biomass. Retene, cadalene, simonellite, tetrahydroretene and kaurane are poorly specific and can derive from a variety of early Palaeozoic land plants. Abietane, phyllocladane, ent-beyerane and 4β(H)-eudesmane, as well as bisnorsimonellite, diaromatic totarane, diaromatic sempervirane and 2-methylretene, however, as yet had only been reported from conifers, which do not appear in the fossil record until the Late Carboniferous. Within the lower Carboniferous forest ecosystem, arborescent lycopsids and pteridosperms are proposed as alternative sources for these compounds.
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Maria-Fernanda Romero-Sarmiento, Armelle Riboulleau, Marco Vecoli, G. Versteegh, Fatima Laggoun-Défarge. Aliphatic and aromatic biomarkers from Carboniferous coal deposits at Dunbar (East Lothian, Scotland): Palaeobotanical and palaeoenvironmental significance. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Elsevier, 2011, 309, pp.309-326. ⟨10.1016/j.palaeo.2011.06.015⟩. ⟨insu-00602822⟩

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