Research Article

Biomarker Evidence for a Major Preservation Pathway of Sedimentary Organic Carbon

Science  16 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5780, pp. 1627-1631
DOI: 10.1126/science.1126372

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Abstract

Hydrogenation processes leading from biomolecules to fossil biomarkers in anoxic sediments are crucial for the preservation of organic matter. However, these processes are still poorly understood. The present identification of several reduced carotenoids in recent sediments attests that these processes operate at the earliest stages of diagenesis without structural or stereochemical specificity, implying a nonbiological reduction pathway. Sulfur species (e.g., H2S) are the hydrogen donors involved in such reduction, as demonstrated with laboratory experiments. These reactions allow the preservation of abundant organic carbon in the rock record.

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