Organic carbon and metal accumulation rates in Holocene and mid-Cretaceous sediments

Palaeoceanographic significance

Timothy Bralower, H. R. Thierstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The proportion of the organic carbon produced in oceanic surface waters that is buried in the underlying sediments is highly variable. The organic-carbon preservation factor, the proportion of preserved to produced organic carbon, is much higher in anoxic than in oxic deep waters. Predictability of organic-carbon preservation factors from sedimentary evidence would enable estimation of past primary production rates from measurable accumulation rates of organic carbon in ancient sediments. Accumulation rate patterns of organic carbon, transition metals, and excess transition metals in Holocene and mid-Cretaceous sediments are evaluated as predictors of organic-carbon preservation factors. Holocene transition-metal accumulation rates are controlled dominantly by bulk accumulation rates. Euxinic deep water environments, characterized by high organic-carbon preservation factors, are more successfully identified by sedimentological than by geochemical criteria. Sedimentological evidence from several mid-Cretaceous intervals implies widespread deep-water anoxia, high organic-carbon preservation factors, and correspondingly low primary productivity for large parts of the mid-Cretaceous oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-369
Number of pages25
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
Volume26
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1987

Fingerprint

Organic carbon
accumulation rate
Sediments
organic carbon
Holocene
Cretaceous
metal
Metals
sediment
transition element
Transition metals
deep water
Water
anoxia
Surface waters
primary production
Productivity
surface water
productivity
ocean

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology

Cite this

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abstract = "The proportion of the organic carbon produced in oceanic surface waters that is buried in the underlying sediments is highly variable. The organic-carbon preservation factor, the proportion of preserved to produced organic carbon, is much higher in anoxic than in oxic deep waters. Predictability of organic-carbon preservation factors from sedimentary evidence would enable estimation of past primary production rates from measurable accumulation rates of organic carbon in ancient sediments. Accumulation rate patterns of organic carbon, transition metals, and excess transition metals in Holocene and mid-Cretaceous sediments are evaluated as predictors of organic-carbon preservation factors. Holocene transition-metal accumulation rates are controlled dominantly by bulk accumulation rates. Euxinic deep water environments, characterized by high organic-carbon preservation factors, are more successfully identified by sedimentological than by geochemical criteria. Sedimentological evidence from several mid-Cretaceous intervals implies widespread deep-water anoxia, high organic-carbon preservation factors, and correspondingly low primary productivity for large parts of the mid-Cretaceous oceans.",
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T2 - Palaeoceanographic significance

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AU - Thierstein, H. R.

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