Ongoing Buildup of Refractory Organic Carbon in Boreal Soils During the Holocene

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Science  24 Nov 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5803, pp. 1283-1286
DOI: 10.1126/science.1129376

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Radiocarbon ages of vascular plant wax–derived n-alkanes preserved in well-dated Holocene sediments in an anoxic fjord (Saanich Inlet, Canada) were found to be not only substantially older than the depositional age but increasingly so during the Holocene. Assuming that n-alkanes serve as a proxy for recalcitrant terrigenous organic matter, this indicates that the accumulation of refractory organic carbon in soils that developed after the deglaciation of the American Pacific Northwest is ongoing and may still be far from equilibrium with mineralization and erosion rates.

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