Data for: The distribution of long-chain n-alkan-2-ones in peat can be used to infer past changes in pH

Published: 15-04-2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/bct8jw3893.1
Xianyu Huang


Long-chain n-alkan-2-ones are biomarkers ubiquitous in peat deposits, however, their paleoenvironmental significance lacks constraints. Here we evaluate the influence pH exerts on the occurrence of long-chain n-alkan-2-ones in peat. A comparison of the distribution in a collection (n= 65) of modern peat samples with different pH (pH values 4.4-8.6) from China demonstrates that their distribution is significantly different between acid and alkaline peat. This difference can be explained by the pH control on the conversion of n-alkan-2-one precursor compounds (n-alkanes and fatty acids). Transfer functions between pH and n-alkan-2-one ratios were established using linear and logarithmic regression models. We then applied these proxies to reconstruct variations of paleo-pH in the Dajiuhu peat sequence to identify the history of peatland acidification over the last 13 kyr. We find significant changes in paleo-pH during the deglaciation/early Holocene and related these to times of dry climate in the region. The drought-induced peat acidification is supported by observations from modern drying events in the peatland. We propose that long-chain n-alkan-2-ones in peats have potential to trace paleo-pH changes across the deglaciation and Holocene, although further research from different peatlands and time periods is still needed.