Sedimentary organic matter record of Early Cretaceous environmental changes in Western Liaoning Province, NE China

Yan Li, Zhiguang Song*, Xin xing Cao, Simon C. George

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The abundance and composition of organic matter and the δ13C compositions of some specific individual compounds were analysed in sediments collected from an excavated profile of the Early Cretaceous Yi-xian Formation in Liaoning Province, NE China, in order to provide organic geochemical information on palaeoclimate and environmental changes. The distribution of n-alkanes varies steadily through the profile, with long-chain n-alkanes dominating in the lower and upper sections, and medium chain-length n-alkanes dominating in the middle section of the profile. The δ13C values of n-alkanes, hopanes and steranes show similar upward positive trends through the profile, suggesting that these compounds originated from the same source material and also reflect consistent changes in the environment of the sedimentary basin. The C24 17,21-secohopane was only detected in the lower and middle sections of the profile and has a more positive carbon isotopic composition by about 3.7–6.7‰ than that of associated n-alkanes, hopanes, steranes and C30 8,14-secohopane. This implies that the C24 17,21-secohopane had a different origin, possibly connected with the volcanic ash deposits and massive vertebrate remains. Reconstruction of the δ13C composition of atmospheric CO2 based on plant-derived C29 and C31 n-alkanes shows a change from −10‰ to −3‰ from the bottom to the middle of the profile. This upward positive excursion through the profile is consistent with the worldwide variation of atmospheric CO2 during the Early Cretaceous and indicates an upward warming trend, likely related to globally intensified volcanic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-65
Number of pages12
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Biomarkers
  • Carbon isotopic composition
  • Early Cretaceous
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Volcanic activity
  • Yi-xian Formation


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