The fate of terrestrial organic carbon in the Marine environment

Neal E. Blair*, Robert C. Aller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

323 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding the fate of terrestrial organic carbon (C org) delivered to oceans by rivers is critical for constraining models of biogeochemical cycling and Earth surface evolution. C org fate is dependent on both intrinsic characteristics (molecular structure, matrix) and the environmental conditions to which fluvial C org is subjected. Three distinct patterns are evident on continental margins supplied by rivers: (a) high-energy, mobile muds with enhanced oxygen exposure and efficient metabolite exchange have very low preservation of both terrestrial and marine C org (e.g., Amazon subaqueous delta); (b) low-energy facies with extreme accumulation have high C org preservation (e.g., Ganges-Brahmaputra); and (c) small, mountainous river systems that sustain average accumulation rates but deliver a large fraction of low-reactivity, fossil Corg in episodic events have the highest preservation efficiencies. The global patterns of terrestrial C org preservation reflect broadly different roles for passive and active margin systems in the sedimentary C org cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-423
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Marine Science
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Keywords

  • carbon preservation
  • continental margin
  • deltas
  • river
  • sediments
  • source to sink

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography

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