Historical Reconstruction of Terrestrial Organic Matter Inputs to Fiordland, NZ Over the Last ~500 Years
MetadataShow full item record
Fjords contain a significant quantity of sediments deposited in coastal zones over the last ~100,000 years. Studies of Northern Hemisphere fjords have shown that a large part of the high concentration of sedimentary organic matter (OMsed) is terrestrial in origin (OMterr), composed of a modern detrital fraction and an old mineral-associated fraction (OMfossil). These results suggest that fjords are disproportionately responsible, on a per area basis, for the burial of organic matter in coastal zones. This study, after a rigorous examination of CuO and GDGT biomarker methods used to quantify terrestrial organic matter in coastal environments, demonstrated this hypothesis in a Southern Hemisphere fjord system, Fiordland, New Zealand. CuO analysis of Doubtful Sound surface sediments indicated a large contribution of vascular plant material to fjord sediments. The BIT Index correlated strongly with both delta13C and C/N values in Doubtful Sound surface sediments, indicated that it may accurately trace the relative proportions of marine and soil organic matter (OMsoil) in Fiordland. However, a detailed analysis of the conversion of the BIT Index to quantitative estimates of terrestrial (soil) organic matter revealed that these values are overestimates. Reconstructions of the BIT Index and tetraethers in cores from two locations on the Louisiana continental shelf demonstrated the influence of the crenarchaeol term on BIT Index-based terrestrial organic matter estimates. The differences in the applicability of the BIT Index to these two coastal environments was most likely due to large seasonal changes in productivity on the Louisiana Continental Shelf as well as higher marine relative to terrestrial inputs. Six cores were reconstructed for contributions from marine OM (OMmar), OMfossil, and OMterrestrial representing the last ~500 years of sedimentation. Spatial variations were larger than temporal variations, owing to negligible development and deforestation in the region. OMterr was the dominant fraction in all but one core, and OMfossil inputs were significant. Additionally, source reconstructions from a variety of biomarkers indicated that Landslides deliver large volumes of detrital organic matter to fjord sediments. These results confirm that fjords bury quantitatively significant volumes of organic carbon on a global scale.
terrestrial organic matter
Smith, Richard (2011). Historical Reconstruction of Terrestrial Organic Matter Inputs to Fiordland, NZ Over the Last ~500 Years. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from