The stable isotope record of environmental and climatic signals in modern terrestrial microbial carbonates from Europe

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Stable carbon and oxygen isotope data from over 80 samples of Recent freshwater microbial carbonates from western Europe, confirm that these deposits record environmental and climatic information. Our sample area tested whether recent microbial carbonates record environmental signals over large regions with differing d18O compositions for rainfall (dw), particularly in the Alps where dw is influenced by lower condensation temperatures caused by the orographic effect. Microbial crusts in Alpine areas are clearly distinguished, i.e., have isotopically lower d18O values by up to 4‰, from those forming in lowland areas on the east side of the mountains. Bavarian lakes and rivers which receive runoff from the Alps also have d18O compositions that reflect the Alpine meteoric water input. Microbial crusts in the higher Alpine sites have d13C values around -4‰, which are between 2 and 6‰ higher than values from lowland sites. This difference probably reflects a smaller soil-zone carbon component in the mountain sites where soils are thin, poorly vegetated, or absent. Oxygen and carbon isotope values do not vary significantly between different types of microbial precipitate (e.g., undifferentiated crusts, Rivularia colonies, moss tufa, etc.) at a site. The oxygen isotope compositions of freshwater lacustrine mussel shell aragonite and associated (sometimes shell encrusting) microbial carbonates differ by
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-189
Number of pages19
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number129
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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