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Chemical changes and carbon isotope variations in a cross-section of a large Miocene gymnospermous log

January 1, 1992

The cross-sectional radius of a 3-m (diam.) brown coal gymnospermous log of Miocene age, previously analyzed for carbohydrate and lignin methoxyl content by solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, was examined using stable carbon isotopic ratios in order to determine if the isotopic composition could be related to chemical changes or to radial position. This study found a possible relationship between ??13C-values and radial position; however, these changes cannot be linked to carbohydrate content and are probably attributable to changing growth conditions during the lifetime of the tree. An apparent linear relationship between the changes in carbohydrate content after sodium para-periodate treatment and corresponding changes in the ??13C-values indicates constant isotopic fractionation between lignin and carbohydrates along the cross-sectional radius. This result indicates that diagenesis has not produced any significant change in the lignin-carbohydrate carbon isotopic fractionation or, alternatively, that diagenesis has erased any fractionation pattern that once existed. A sample of fresh wood from another gymnospermous species was analyzed by the same methods and found to have lignin-carbohydrate carbon isotopic fractionation significantly different from that of the Miocene log section samples, suggesting that differences may be species-related or that the complex mixture of carbohydrates in the fresh wood was isotopically different from that of the degraded wood, and the whole Miocene log was uniformly altered. ?? 1992.