Oxidation and origin of organic matter in surficial eastern Mediterranean hemipelagic sediments

Van Santvoort, P.J.M.; De Lange, G.J.; Thomson, J.; Colley, S.; Meysman, F.J.R.; Slomp, C.P.. 2002 Oxidation and origin of organic matter in surficial eastern Mediterranean hemipelagic sediments. Aquatic Geochemistry, 8 (3). 153-175.

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Aerobic mineralisation of Corg in surface sedimentsof the deep (>2000 m water depth) eastern Mediterranean Sea has been quantified by analysis of detailedbox core Corg concentration versus depth profiles and the modelling environment for early diageneticproblems MEDIA. The reactive fraction comprises 60–80% of the total Corg reachingthe sediments and is largely oxidised within the surficial 10 cm. A non-reactive C orgfraction (GNR) dominates at depths >10 cm, and makes up20–40% of the total C org flux to the sediments. First-order rateconstants for decomposition of the reactive fraction calculated from theC org profiles range from 5.4 × 10-3 to8.0 × 10-3 y-1 to 8.0 × 10-3 y-1. Total mineralization rates in thesurface sediment are between 1.7 and 2.6 mol C cm-2 y-1 and thus are typical for oligotrophic, deep-seaenvironments. The low fluxes and rapid remineralisation of C org are accompanied by210Pbexcess surface mixed layers which are only 2 cm deep, among the thinnest reported for oxygenated marine sediments.Model results indicate a mismatch between the C org profiles and O2 microprofileswhich were measured onboard ship. This can be attributed to a combination of decompression artefactsaffecting onboard measurement of the O2 profiles or the leakage ofoxygen into the core during handling on deck. Furthermore, the used Db values, based on 210Pb, may not befully appropriate; calculations with higher Db values improve the O2 fits. The surficial sediment13C org values of -22 become less negative with increasing depth and decreasing C orgconcentrations. The major 13C change occurs in the top 3 to 4 cm and coincides with the interval weremost of the organic carbon oxidation takes place. This indicates that the reactive fractionof organic matter, commonly assumed to be marine, has a more negative 13C orgthan the refractory fraction, usually held to be terrestrial. Palaeoproductivity estimates calculated from thesediment data by means of literature algorithms yield low surface productivities(12–88 gC m-2 y-1), which are in good agreement with field measurements of primary productivity in otherstudies. Such values are, however, significantly lower than those indicated by recent productivitymaps of the area derived from satellite imagery (>100 gC m-2 y-1).

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 1380-6165
Date made live: 10 Sep 2008 +0 (UTC)

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