Quantitative Link Between Sedimentary Chlorin and Sea-Surface Chlorophyll-a

M. Raja*, A. Rosell-Melé

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Primary productivity in the ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. To estimate its changes through geological time, different sedimentary proxies are used. However, the relative weights of the various processes driving the sedimentary accumulation of organic matter are not fully constrained or represent the flux of specific algal classes. Here, we compare sea-surface chlorophyll-a (SSchla) abundance estimated from remote sensing data over the last 20 years with the sedimentary concentration of its derivatives (i.e., chlorin) on a suite of 140 core-top sediments from different biogeochemical regions. We estimate with field data that only 0.33% of SSchla in tropical and subtropical regions is transferred to surface sediments in the form of chlorin. Despite the small fraction of chlorin that arrive to the sea-floor, the sedimentary spatial distribution of chlorin is driven primarily by SSchla concentration in high and moderate productivity locations (SSchla > 0.20 mg·m−3). Our calibration paves the way for the use of chlorin as quantitative proxies of primary productivity in paleoreconstructions and cautions on their use in low primary productivity settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JG006514
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • chlorophyll-a
  • global export and burial
  • marine sediments
  • primary productivity
  • proxy
  • remote sensing


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