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Stable isotopes in diatom silica: Carbon, oxygen and silicon isotopes as indicators for environmental and climatic conditions in the Antarctic

Duration: 1/2011 to 4/2011

Funding: DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service, Post-doc research grant for S. Berg)

In order to better understand the role of the Antarctic in the global system the development of expressive proxies for the recognition of past environmental and climatic changes is an important issue.

Within this research project stable isotopes (carbon, oxygen and silicon) in biogenic silica from diatoms are studied to extend the understanding of these parameters in paleoceanography. It will also focus on the applicability of stable isotopes in diatom silica as proxies for paleoenvironmental conditions in the Antarctic environment.

Sediment records from coastal marine inlets of Rauer Group in East Antarctica provide unique material for this purpose, since the sediments are rich in diatoms and the records contain complete and undisturbed sequences. The distinction between local and regional signals will be achieved by comparison of several records, which span similar time periods.

The isotope analyses have been conducted in collaboration with Prof. Dr. M. J. Leng at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory in Nottingham, UK.


  • Berg, S., Leng, M.J., Kendrick, C.P., Cremer, H., Wagner, B. 2013. Bulk sediment and diatom silica carbon isotope composition from coastal marine sediments off East Antarctica. Silicon 5, 19-34