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Isotopic compositions and probable origins of organic molecules in the Eocene Messel shaleIt is shown here that the carbon isotopic compositions of biomarkers from the Eocene Messel shale, accumulated 47 + or - 2 million years ago in anaerobic waters at the bottom of a lake, allow identification of specific sources for some materials and reconstruction of carbon flows within the lake and its sediments. The C-13 content of organic matter synthesized by lacustrine primary producers can be estimated from the observed C-13 content of the geoporphyrins derived from their chlorophylls. Total organic material in the shale is depleted in C-13 by six parts per thousand relative to that input. This difference cannot be explained by selective loss of components enriched in C-13, nor, as shown by isotopic compositions of other biomarkers, by inputs from land plants surrounding the lake or from methanogenic bacteria.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Hayes, J. M. (Indiana Univ. Bloomington, IN, United States)
Takigiku, Ray (Indiana University Bloomington, United States)
Ocampo, Ruben (Indiana Univ. Bloomington, IN, United States)
Callot, Enry J. (Indiana Univ. Bloomington, IN, United States)
Albrecht, Pierre (Strasbourg I, Universite France)
Date Acquired
August 13, 2013
Publication Date
September 3, 1987
Publication Information
Publication: Nature
Volume: 329
ISSN: 0028-0836
Subject Category
Distribution Limits