Earlier reconstructions of climatic and environmental changes from data of deep-water drilling on the Akademichesky Ridge in Lake Baikal were based both on the content of biogenic silica or the abundance of diatom valves and on the results of X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis of the sediment mineralogy. It was established that clay minerals are the main carrier of information about climatic variations in a drainage basin. The content of biogenic silica strictly correlates with two chrystallochemical parameters: the abundance of smectite beds in illite–smectite and the abundance of illite. However, detailed analysis of clay minerals calls for exclusive XRD techniques without mass determination of minerals in the sediments of long Baikal cores. We propose a new approach to determine the mineral composition of bottom sediments, based on their chemical composition. We compared the average chemical compositions of Pleistocene, Pliocene, and Miocene core sediments from the boreholes BDP-96 and BDP-98 and sediments of the Paleo-Barguzin River avandelta and recognized groups of chemical elements marking warm and cold climatic periods. However, the difference in the chemical compositions of sediments in warm and cold periods is insignificant. Since an XRD analysis of mineral composition is usually performed for short time intervals, it was necessary to identify cold and warm intervals by the mineral composition calculated from the chemical composition of sediments. The mineral contents were estimated using the Selektor software. Based on the average contents of chemical elements, we computed the mineral composition of the bottom sediments throughout the BDP-98 section and studied its warm and cold periods. We have established that feldspars weakly respond to climatic changes, their contents show minor variations in warm and cold epochs, whereas the contents of mica minerals change seriously. Thus, clay minerals, together with biogenic silica, are a good indicator of paleoclimatic environmental changes.

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