My current work with Chris is exploring if GDGTs (Glycerol Dialkyl Glycerol Tetraethers - more about these later!) will identify past climate variations and flooding events by determining changes in the organic matter in the soils.
|Molecular structure of branched GDGTs (right) and Crenarchaeol (left) used to calculate the BIT index in tidal Thames.|
|Location of the surface samples from the intertidal foreshore of the River Thames to be analysed in this project. (c) Google|
|The Organic Chemistry Team; from right to left:|
Alex Kim, Vicky Moss-Hayes, Chris Vane, Raquel Santos
Why use GDGTs to track soil organic matter?
Most studies that aim to track the origin and fate of organic carbon in estuaries have been predominantly based on bulk organic parameters. However, the interpretation of these data can be compromised by the wide range of potential end-member compositions and preferential remineralisation. Some of these limitations can be overcome with the application of molecular biomarkers that are specific to organisms. GDGTs are ubiquitous compounds that are specific to certain groups of organisms and that are not expected to be strongly affected by the industrial activities that take place along the river margins. Therefore, they are good biomarkers to be used at these settings.
If you would like to contact me, please write to Dr. Raquel Santos.
For information about current and future projects at the Organic Geochemical Laboratory, please write to Dr. Christopher Vane.