Stable Carbon Isotope Ratios of Rock Varnish Organic Matter: A New Paleoenvironmental Indicator

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Science  22 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4693, pp. 1472-1474
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4693.1472


Stable carbon isotope ratios of organic matter in rock varnishes of Holocene age from western North America and the Middle East show a strong association with the environment. This isotopic variability reflects the abundance of plants with different photosynthetic pathways in adjacent vegetation. Analyses of different layers of varnish on late Pleistocene desert landforms indicate that the carbon isotopic composition of varnish organic matter is a paleoenvironmental indicator.