Modern Analogue Approach Applied to High-Resolution Varved Sediments—A Synthesis for Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees)
- Relationships between calcite precipitation, environmental variables and primary producers and their influences on the thickness and patterns of calcareous varve sublayers were examined as high-resolution paleoclimate indicators .
- Seasonal pollen sedimentation was compared with local meteorological variables to determine whether contemporary seasonal deposition is consistent with the two layers of the varve pattern archived in the sediments .
- Contemporary shifts in dissolved O2, Fe, Mn and anaerobic phototrophic bacteria markers were assessed, in order to investigate whether mixing and oxygenation dynamics Lake Montcortès have been the same over the last five centuries .
- Distribution of branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) in settling particulate matter and catchment soils was analysed in order to determine whether branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs) are seasonally biased in environments where annual brGDGTs production may not be constant .
2. Environmental Settings
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Monitoring and Coring
3.2. Laboratory Analyses
4.1. Biogeochemical Processes Involved in Varve Formation: Where, When, and How?
4.2. Is Contemporary Seasonal Deposition of Pollen Consistent with a Two-Layer Varve Model?
4.3. Revisiting Meromictic Lake Montcortès: Has the Mixing Regime Changed?
4.4. Are GDGTs Promising Indicators of Seasonal Temperature Shifts?
4.5. From Contemporary Phytoplankton to Subfossil Pigments, What Can We Learn about Community Changes?
5. Discussion, Conclusions and Guidelines for Future Research
- Calcite: There is evidence that a temperature increase enhances the amount of calcite precipitation and flux to the sediment. This relationship may be an important factor, when considering the role of calcite as a sink of atmospheric CO2 in the context of global warming and needs further examination. On the other hand, if the size of endogenic calcite crystals varies seasonally, inferences at the sub-annual scale may be derived from calcite crystals contained in sublayers of varves.
- These hypotheses encourage the execution of further modern analogue studies. Hence, three improvements are suggested: (1) increase the frequency and duration of sampling, in order to better document shifts in calcite precipitation as related to the current warming trend; (2) install a meteorological station in the lake’s catchment, in order to capture local temperature and other meteorological variables that condition water temperature; (3) perform a detailed survey of calcite crystal features retrieved from seasonal traps and from varve sublayers to precisely determine their origin and diagnostic characteristics.
- Pollen: Two advantages of pollen studies are (1) the ability of identifying and characterizing seasonal layers even in the absence of varves and (2) the possibility of recording interannual variability and associated meteorological drivers.
- Oxygen: Even though our approach cannot provide estimations of past oxygen concentrations, it is a useful tool to connect and compare the dynamics of past and present oxic and anoxic events with annual resolution. However, if past oxygen concentrations are to be inferred, a more specific modern analogue study is required. Perhaps monthly and multiannual monitoring of the evolution of hypolimnetic oxygen concentrations and a concurrently examination of the content of Fe and Mn oxides in surface sediment samples, catches mixing and meromictic years. It should then be possible to establish appropriate transfer functions to estimate dissolved oxygen from most related proxies. If successful, truly long-term oxygen time series linking estimated and instrumental data could be established.
- Cyanoprokariota assemblages lack a modern analogue, since they are nearly absent today, whereas they were abundant, diverse and pervasive until, at least, the 1970s . This observation is surprising because, to our knowledge, there have been few changes in land use or lake exploitation that could have affected Lake Montcortès’ trophic conditions. In contrast, we expect Cyanoprokariota to play a prominent role during the coming warmer years, when Lake Montcortès becomes more intensely stratified. Cyanobacteria marker pigments (myxoxanthophyll and zeaxanthin) have been detected in the water column during monitoring, the lack of correspondence with microscopical counts may be due to the low cell size of species involved, but this will need further studies. Therefore, considering the known deleterious effects of Cyanobacteria on aquatic ecosystems and human health, it would be advisable to continue present-day monitoring. The results would aid in obtaining a long-term picture of cyanobacterial successions and importance and allow deriving future scenarios, in the context of global warming.
- brGDGT production in the soils of the lake catchment show no seasonality. However, in sediment trap particles, the brGDGT flux presents a clear seasonality. The seasonal variations of flux rates confirm transport variations from the catchment rather than in situ production of brGDGT in the lacustrine environment. The MBT/CBT temperature estimates indicate that brGDGT signatures in the sediment traps show a mixed signature and originate from surrounding soils. These results suggest that any inferences made from the high-resolution record must be made with caution.
- From a methodological point of view, cylindrical traps with seasonal or quarterly recovery yield coherent results in all cases, i.e., total suspended solids, calcite crystals, pollen and spores and particles for brGDGT extractions. However, it is recommended that additional samples of surface sediments at the end of sampling years should be taken, to assess post-depositional transformations of these proxies. In our case, surface sediment samples would have provided complementary information, such as total fluxes to the sediment and subsequent accumulation, interactions at the sediment-water interface and early diagenesis. For example, in the case of calcite precipitation as related to varve formation, initial data of organic matter content may be needed to estimate the degree of sediment compaction with time  and for a full understanding of structure and thickness of varve sublayers at any depth. In the end, all this information allows a better connection and comparison between contemporary proxies and their modified version after being buried in the sediment, making the modern analogue technique more powerful.
- Sometimes, modern analogue studies performed at a seasonal or annual frequency cannot be fully exploited for the interpretation of sedimentary records, because of a mismatch in resolution between present-day and past samples. This mismatch occurs when a relatively large weight or volume of sediment is needed to extract enough material for proxy analyses, because contiguous varves are too thin and/or must be joined into one sample. In doing so, the resolution of the samples decreases. With time and targeted effort, this disadvantage will hopefully be overcome with the advent of new technologies. In the field of marker pigments, hyperspectral image spectroscopy is progressing quickly and offers a non-destructive and inexpensive approach that permits high resolution. Hyperspectral image spectroscopy is being used in lake sediments, e.g., for concentrations of sedimentary bacteriopheophytin “a”, based upon diagnostic spectral properties with high spatial and temporal resolution . A good match of the resolutions of modern and past studies is indispensable to successfully connect both and to better understand the evolution of ecosystems with time.
Conflicts of Interest
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Vegas-Vilarrúbia, T.; Rull, V.; Trapote, M.d.C.; Cao, M.; Rosell-Melé, A.; Buchaca, T.; Gomà, J.; López, P.; Sigró, J.; Safont, E.; Cañellas, N.; Garcés-Pastor, S.; Giralt, S.; Corella, J.P.; Pérez-Zanón, N. Modern Analogue Approach Applied to High-Resolution Varved Sediments—A Synthesis for Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees). Quaternary 2020, 3, 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3010001
Vegas-Vilarrúbia T, Rull V, Trapote MdC, Cao M, Rosell-Melé A, Buchaca T, Gomà J, López P, Sigró J, Safont E, Cañellas N, Garcés-Pastor S, Giralt S, Corella JP, Pérez-Zanón N. Modern Analogue Approach Applied to High-Resolution Varved Sediments—A Synthesis for Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees). Quaternary. 2020; 3(1):1. https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3010001Chicago/Turabian Style
Vegas-Vilarrúbia, Teresa, Valentí Rull, Maria del Carmen Trapote, Min Cao, Antoni Rosell-Melé, Teresa Buchaca, Joan Gomà, Pilar López, Javier Sigró, Elisabet Safont, Núria Cañellas, Sandra Garcés-Pastor, Santiago Giralt, Juan Pablo Corella, and Núria Pérez-Zanón. 2020. "Modern Analogue Approach Applied to High-Resolution Varved Sediments—A Synthesis for Lake Montcortès (Central Pyrenees)" Quaternary 3, no. 1: 1. https://doi.org/10.3390/quat3010001