Altitudinal shift in stable hydrogen isotopes and microbial tetraether distribution in soils from the Southern Alps, NZ: Implications for paleoclimatology and paleoaltimetry

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The Southern Alps are an ideal locality for studying patterns of isotopic fractionation associated with orographic precipitation. We have evaluated whether altitudinal change is reflected in the stable hydrogen isotopic composition (δ H) of stream water, plant stem water and leaf wax lipids (n-alkanes) from living plants and soils, as well as in soil temperature. Samples were collected along an altitudinal transect from the windward side of the Southern Alps to Lake Hawea in the rain shadow. The results indicate that δ H values of stem water overlap with stream water, demonstrating a gradual decrease with elevation that complied with modeled Rayleigh distillation, reflecting an isotopic lapse rate of -18.0 (±1.1, 1σ)‰/km. Leaf and soil n-alkanes shared similar δ H values and were H depleted relative to stem/stream waters. The values for soil n-alkanes indicated an isotopic lapse rate of -21.8 (±2.0, 1σ)‰/km, consistent with precipitation data and long term observations. MBT/CBT derived soil temperature values based on the relative distribution of microbial tetraether lipids were similar to midsummer temperature observations, displaying an elevational decrease rate of -5.6 (±1.5, 1σ)°C/km, consistent with regional and global observations.The results indicate that sedimentary lipid δ H and microbial tetraether temperature estimates captured altitudinal trends in the isotopic composition of precipitation and mean temperature and further support their application in the reconstruction of past climate and surface uplift histories. However, notable differences in isotopic composition and temperature estimates between in situ soils and those with downslope transport of material emphasize the importance of facies analysis when interpreting past systems. 2 2 2 2 2

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Organic Geochemistry

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