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Characterizing the Depositional Settings for Sedimentary Organic Matter Distributions in the Lower Yangtze River-East China Sea Shelf System

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Thomas Wagner


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Grain-size distributions, total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations, and TOC/TN ratios (C/N) were analysed for surface sediments from the Lower Yangtze River-East China Sea (ECS) shelf system. Hierarchical cluster analysis of grain-size parameters (mode, mean, sorting, skewness and kurtosis) has been employed to characterize grain-size compositions. The results suggest there are five grain-size compositional types (type-I–V) that fingerprint distinct depositional conditions. In areas with high sedimentation rates, hydrological sorting preferentially enriches the fraction coarser than 6.4ø (12 μm) in shallow seafloor sediments (water depth<30 m) by transporting the finer fraction to the deeper seafloor (water depth>30 m), and thus forms grain-size compositional type-I (shallow) and type-II (deep). In the open shelf, where modern sediment supply is very limited, grain-size types-III–V are identified according to different winnowing intensity. Overall TOC contents significantly correlate with mud proportions, suggesting muddy sediments are the primary control on OM accumulation. However, de-association of terrestrial OM from fine sediments in the Estuary and the occurrence of presumably relict OM in the open shelf exert additional controls on OM dispersal and carbon cycling in the ECS. By considering geography, oceanography, sediment source, and the relation between sedimentation conditions and sedimentary OM distributions, we define six depositional settings: the lower river, the estuary, the coast, the offshore upwelling area, the erosional area, and the open shelf. These settings describe the sediment dispersal and associated organic matter cycling in the Lower Yangtze River-ECS shelf system.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zhu C, Wang ZH, Xue B, Wagner T, Pan J, Pancost R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sciences

Year: 2011

Volume: 93

Issue: 3

Pages: 182-191

Print publication date: 10/08/2010

ISSN (print): 0272-7714

ISSN (electronic): 1096-0015

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2010.08.001


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