A review of molecular organic proxies for examining modern and ancient lacustrine environments

Isla S. Castañeda, Stefan Schouten

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

318 Scopus citations


Molecular organic geochemical proxies are increasingly being utilized to reconstruct past environmental conditions as new tools continue to be discovered and developed. To date, organic geochemical proxies have been developed mainly for use in marine systems and are widely used in paleoceanography. In contrast, organic proxies have been less commonly used on lacustrine sedimentary records. One reason for this is that the wide range in the physical and chemical properties of lakes complicates application of some organic geochemical proxies in lacustrine settings. Furthermore, in comparison to marine studies, presently only a small number of studies have conducted or are currently conducting fundamental research aimed at developing organic geochemical proxies for use in lacustrine settings. Despite this, an increasing number of (paleo)limnological studies are currently applying organic geochemical techniques to examine present and past environmental conditions. In this manuscript we review the use of a number of commonly utilized organic geochemical and isotopic proxies and discuss their potential for environmental reconstruction in Quaternary lacustrine deposits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2851-2891
Number of pages41
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number21-22
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Guoqiang Chu, Marco Coolen, William D’Andrea, Piero Guilizzoni, Yongsong Huang, Zhonghui Liu, Helen Talbot, Martijn Woltering and Klaus Zink for providing data that was used in the figures and tables. Nicole Bale is thanked for providing helpful information regarding sedimentary pigments. We thank Phil Meyers and an anonymous reviewer for insightful comments that improved this manuscript. QSR editors José Carrión and Timothy Horscroft are thanked for their support throughout this project. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) is thanked for financial support through a VICI grant to S. Schouten.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biomarker
  • Lake
  • Organic geochemical proxies
  • Quaternary


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