Journal article

Organic compounds preserved in a 2.9 million year old stalagmite from the Nullarbor Plain, Australia

Alison J Blyth, Jonathan S Watson, Jon Woodhead, John Hellstrom



A 2.9. Ma stalagmite from the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia was analysed for organic components. In contrast to previously analysed stalagmites, no significant lipid record was recovered. However, qualitative TMAH thermochemolysis of the residual organic matter recovered a range of compounds, including a number of phenols previously associated with lignin. Comparison of this sample with a range of modern stalagmite samples from different environments indicated that the phenolic record in stalagmites can reflect the overlying vegetation regime, and has potential in investigating palaeoenvironmental change in this climatically important region. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.


Funding Acknowledgements

Dr. Lisa Harris of the Mass Spectrometry Facility, Department of Chemistry, UCL, undertook preliminary analyses of the pink colouration in M06a. Funding for this work was provided by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, The Open University, and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to AJB.