Marine vs. terrigenous organic matter in Louisiana coastal sediments: The uses of bromine:organic carbon ratios

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Recent data on the sources of organic carbon buried in the ocean have emphasized the probable importance of terrigenous organic matter in burial budgets of deltaic depocenters. The many markers used to assess relative importance of marine vs. terrestrial sources each have ambiguities. We use the ratio of bromine to organic carbon (Br:OC) as a source indicator for organic matter in the Mississippi delta. Progressive increases in bromine concentrations from the river to the slope indicate increasing content of marine-derived organic matter. Quantitative estimates of marine vs. terrigenous organic matter using Br:OC ratios in a two-endmember mixing model are consistent with recent estimates using a combination of three other source markers [Gordon, E.S., Goñi, M.A. 2003. Sources and distribution of terrigenous organic matter delivered by the Atchafalaya River to sediments in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 67:2359-2375]. The Br:OC vs. δ13C relationship indicates seaward increase in δ13C without proportionate incorporation of marine organic matter, consistent with recent arguments that isotopically depleted terrestrial detritus derived from C3 plants is separated from C4-derived terrigenous organic matter during transport. Decreasing Br:OC ratios downcore at many sites that have significant amounts of marine organic matter indicate that the marine organic matter is preferentially lost during burial diagenesis. This preferential loss constrains the contribution of organic matter burial in deltaic environments to global removal of Br. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Marine Chemistry

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