Paleovegetation changes recorded by n-alkyl lipids bound in macromolecules of plant fossils and kerogens from the Cretaceous sediments in Japan

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Yuma Miyata1, Ken Sawada1, Hideto Nakamura1, Reishi Takashima2 and Masamichi Takahashi3, (1)Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan, (2)Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, (3)Niigata University, Niigata, Japan
Resistant macromolecules composing living plant tissues tend to be preserved through degradation and diagenesis, hence constituate major parts of sedimentary plant-derived organic matter (kerogen), and their monomer compositions vary widely among different plant taxa, organs and growth stages. Thus, analysis of such macromolecule may serve as new technique for paleobotanical evaluation distinctive from classical paleobotnical studies depends on morphological preservation of fossils. In the present study, we analyzed plant fossils and kerogens in sediments from the Cretaceous strata in Japan to examine chemotaxonomic characteristics of fossil macromolecules and to reconstruct paleovegetation change by kerogen analysis. The kerogens were separated from the powdered sediments of Cretaceous Yezo Group, Hokkaido, Japan. All kerogens have been confirmed to be mostly originated from land plant tissues by microscopic observation. Mummified angiosperm and gymnosperm fossil leaves were separated from carbonaceous sandstone of the Cretaceous Ashizawa Formation, Futaba Group. The kerogens and plant fossils were extracted with methanol and dichloromethane, and were subsequently refluxed under 110°C to remove free compounds completely. The residues are hydrolyzed by KOH/methanol under 110°C. These released compounds are analyzed by GC-MS. As main hydrolyzed products (ester-bound molecular units) from all kerogens, C10-C28 n-alkanoic acids and C10-C30 n-alkanols were detected. Recent studies on the hydrolysis products of plant tissues suggested the long chain (>C20) n-alkanols were predominantly abundant in deciduous broadleaved angiosperms. Correspondingly, the stratigraphic variation of the ratios of long chain (>C20) n-alkanols to fatty acids was concordant with the variation of angiosperm/gymnosperm ratios recorded by land plant-derived terpenoid biomarkers. In addition, we found that the long chain n-alkanols/fatty acids ratio in the angiosperm fossil leaf was significantly higher than that of conifer fossil leaf from Ashizawa coal bed. From these results, we propose that the proportions of long chain n-alkanols released from terrigenous kerogens are applicable for paleovegetation reconstruction.