Assessing environmental controls on the distribution of long-chain alkenones in the Canadian Prairies

Julien Plancq*, Bianca Cavazzin, Steve Juggins, Heather A. Haig, Peter R. Leavitt, Jaime L. Toney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
145 Downloads (Pure)


Long-chain alkenones (LCAs) have been used for decades to reconstruct quantitative sea-surface temperature records, but they also have a great potential for paleotemperature reconstructions in lacustrine settings. Here, we investigated how the presence and abundance of LCAs in surface sediments from 106 lakes varied with environmental conditions in lakes of the northern Great Plains (Canadian Prairies) in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. Consistent with preliminary research, we found LCAs in 55% of surveyed lakes, with mean concentrations of 143 μg/g dry sediment, but very high concentrations (up to 2.3 mg/g dry sediment) in 7% of lakes. Statistical analyses indicate that salinity and stratification play key roles in determining LCA presence and abundance supporting previous research in Spain and the northern Great Plains, USA. Overall, the alkenone unsaturation index (U37 K) was not correlated significantly with average summer water temperature, probably because the timing of maximum LCA production occurs during the spring season. We conclude that improved seasonal sampling is required within the study lakes to better identify the timing and habitat of haptophyte production, and allow development of environmental temperature reconstruction tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Early online date20 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Alkenones
  • Haptophyte
  • Lakes
  • Salinity
  • Stratification
  • U

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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