Sediment accumulation rates and carbon fluxes to bottom sediments at the western Bransfield Strait (Antarctica)

Pere Masqué, Enrique Isla, Joan A. Sanchez-Cabeza, Albert Palanques, Joan M. Bruach, Pere Puig, Jorge Guillén

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Mean sediment and carbon accumulation rates in the western Bransfield Strait, during the last ca. 100 years, were determined at three sites by using 210Pb as a radiotracer of sedimentation processes. 210Pb profiles showed moderate mixing in the upper 8.5-12 cm, which was attributed to bioturbation. Sediment accumulation rates calculated assuming no mixing below the surface mixed layer (SML) were found to be relatively high (between 0.03 and 0.09 gcm-2 yr-1), in good agreement with previously reported data based on both 210Pb and 14C dating in surrounding areas. These results, together with the calculated excess 210Pb fluxes to the bottom sediments and the 210Pb and 210Po distributions in the water column, indicated the presence of a large net advective flux of material in the area, highlighting the importance of glacial related sedimentation processes in this semi-enclosed sea. Carbon in bottom sediments was mainly organic, and its content was moderately low (0.65-1.25%), being slightly higher within the SML, reflecting the presence of inhabiting organisms. However, organic carbon (OC) accumulation fluxes (3.1-6.7 g Cm-2 yr-1) were considerable, due to the high sediment accumulation rates. 210Pb dated profiles allowed us to estimate the amount of carbon exported from the water column and buried in the bottom sediment, which represents about 3-7% of the mean annual primary production in the euphotic layer of the Bransfield Strait. The burial efficiency of OC in the sediment was estimated to be approximately 60-80%. © 2001 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-933
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2002


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